Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chinese cuisine----Hunan cuisine


While mentioning Hunan cuisine, the first word coming into mind must be hot for most people! It’s so hot that tears and nose are running down the first time I taste it.

Hunan cuisine, also called Xiang cuisine, is one of the eight regional cuisines of China and is well known for its hot spicy flavor, fresh aroma and deep color.

Due to the high agricultural output of the region and the special location, ingredients for Hunan dishes are abundant, such as game, fish, shrimp, crab, and turtle. It’s said that Hunan cuisine consists of more than 4,000 dishes, among which more than 300 are very famous.

With liberal use of chilli peppers, Hunan cuisine is known for being hot. Hunan cuisine is hot because the air is very humid, which makes it difficult for the human body to eliminate moisture. The local people eat hot peppers to help remove dampness and cold.

Compared to another well-known Chinese cuisine------ Sichuan cuisine, Hunan Cuisine is often spicier by pure chili content, contains a larger variety of fresh ingredients, tends to be oilier, and is said to be purer and simpler in taste. The Sichuan cuisine, known for its distinctive málà (hot and numbing) seasoning and other complex flavor combinations, frequently employ Sichuan peppercorns along with chilies which are often dried, and utilizes more dried or preserved ingredients and condiments.

Another feature of Hunan cuisine is that the menu changes with the seasons. In a hot and humid summer, a meal will usually start with cold dishes or a platter holding a selection of cold meats with chilies for opening the pores and keeping cool in the summer. In winter, a popular choice is the hot pot, thought to heat the blood in the cold months. A special hot pot called lover's hot pot is famous for splitting the pot into a spicy side and a milder side.

Hunan cuisine is consisted of three styles: Xiang River style which is represented by dishes of Changsha, Dongting Lake style which is represented by dishes of Hengyang, and western Hunan style which is represented by dishes of Xiangtan. Common cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising, and smoking.

Chinese cuisine----Fujian cuisine


Want to taste fresh seafood or river fish? Try Fujian cuisine!!

Renowned for its choice seafood, soup, light but flavorful and umami taste, with particular emphasis on showing off and not masking original flavor of the main ingredients, Fujian cuisine is derived from the native cooking style of the province of Fujian, China. Also called Min Cai for short, it holds an important position in China's culinary art.

In general, Fujian cuisine consists of three styles: Fuzhou, South Fujian and West Fujian. There are slight differences among them. Fuzhou dishes, quite popular in eastern, central and northern Fujian Province, is light compared to other styles and famous for its soups; South Fujian dishes, popular in Xiamen, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou and the golden triangle of South Fujian, are sweet and hot and use hot sauces, custard, and orange juice as flavorings; West Fujian dishes are salty and hot, prevailing in Hakka region with strong local flavor. As Fujian people emigrate overseas, their cuisine become popular in Taiwan and abroad. Generally speaking, Fujian dishes are slightly sweet and sour, and less salty, and often use the red distiller's grain for flavoring.

Fujian cuisine is characterized by the following four aspects:

(1)Various soup and broth: The most characteristic aspect of Fujian cuisine is that its dishes are served in soup. There is a sayings about the soup: "One soup can be changed in ten forms" and "It is unacceptable for a meal to not have soup".

(2) Ingredients of seafood and mountain delicacies: Fujian cuisine emphasizes seafood and mountain delicacies. Fujian Province has a favorable geographical location with mountains in its north and sea to its south. Many mountain delicacies such as mushroom, bamboo shoots and tremella are often found here. The coastal area produces 167 varieties of fish and 90 kinds of turtles and shellfish. It also produces edible bird's nest, cuttlefish, and sturgeon. These special products are all used in Fujian cuisine. The local people are good at cooking seafood, featuring in methods of stewing, boiling, braising, quick-boiling, and steaming, etc.

(3) Fine slicing techniques: Fujian cuisine stresses on fine slicing techniques so much that it is reputed as "sliced ingredients are as thin as paper and shredded as slim as hairs". Everything sliced serves its original aroma. Fine slicing techniques may better show the aroma and texture of food. Cutting is important in Fujian cuisine. Most dishes are made of seafood, and if the seafood is not cut well, the dishes will fail to have their true flavor.

(4) Exquisite culinary art: Fujian dishes are tasty because of their emphasis on a series of delicate procession: selecting ingredients, mixing flavors, timing the cooking and controlling the heat. When a dish is less salty, it tastes more delicious. Sweetness makes a dish tastier, while sourness helps remove the seafood smell.

Appealing dishes are countless, so we can only exemplify some of them:

Buddha jumping over the wall - the most famous and classical dish, which has a long history since the Qing Dynasty. The name implies the dish is so delicious that even the Buddha would jump over a wall to have a taste once he smelled it.

Fried golden bamboo shoot with chicken mince - every 100g of winter bamboo shoots will be cut into 500 - 600 strips with the same length and breadth. Then they can blend with the very small pieces of chicken.

Dongbi dragon pearl - it chooses materials from the rare longan trees of thousand year's history in Kaiyuan Temple in Quanzhou, the delicate scent is rather catching.

'Fried Xi Shi's tongue'is made from the locally produced Fujian mussel. According to legend the concubine Xi Shi of the king of Wu state was thrown in the sea tied to a huge stone by the wife of Gou Jian, the king of Yue who destroyed Wu, to prevent her husband being seduced by her beauty. In the area of the sea where she sank, a special breed of mussel appeared and this was said to be Xi Shi's tongue.

Chinese cuisine----Jiangsu Cuisine

The elegant color, novel sculpts, with salt and sweet taste of the Jiangsu Cuisine will soothe your stomach!

Derived from the native cooking styles of the Jiangsu region in China, Jiangsu cuisine is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of China. The style of this cuisine is both mild and healthy. Its main cooking techniques are braising and stewing, thereby enhancing the original flavor and sauce. In general, Jiangsu cuisine's texture is characterized as soft, but not to the point of mushy or falling apart. For example, the meat tastes quite soft but would not separate from the bone when picked up.

The main characteristics of Jiangsu cuisine include:
(1) Distinguished for exquisite ingredients, freshness and aliveness.
(2) High cutting techniques.
(3) Have a good command of duration and degree of heating and cooking.
(4) Good at keeping the original taste one particular taste for one dish. All dishes have light, mellow and refreshing tastes. Yangzhou Cuisine is light and elegant; Suzhou Cuisine is slightly sweet; and Wuxi Cuisine is fairly sweet.
(5) Pay great attention to soup, which is strong but not greasy, and delicious.

The Jiangsu cuisine has several branches: Nanjing cuisine - its dishes emphasize an even taste and matching color, with excellent dishes incorporating river fish/shrimps and duck; Suzhou cuisine - emphasis on the selection of material, stronger taste than Nanjing cuisine, and with a tendency to be sweeter than the other varieties of the cuisine; Wuxi cuisine - famed for the numerous types of congee.

The menu of Jiangsu cuisine is long and the most highly recommended dishes include:

Butterfish in Creamy Juice with Lotus Smell - Butterfish is one of the three treasures (including hilsa herring, cutlass fish and butterfish) from the Yangtze River. Butterfish in Creamy Juice with Lotus Smell features thick and tender fish meat, no fishbone, and a delicious taste.

Caigen Large Meatballs - A representative of Jiangsu Cuisine. At the banquet to celebrate the founding of the People‘s Republic of China, Premier Zhou Enlai entertained Chinese and foreign honored guests with this dish, which was spoken highly by guests. Though made of meat, this dish is not greasy, but delicious and refreshing.

Sanfengqiao Soy Sauce Spareribs - Sanfengqiao Soy Sauce Spareribs, which is prepared with high-quality spareribs, and more than 20 natural precious seasonings, features a red and bright color, soft bones, tender meat, a slightly sweet taste. This dish has been well known at home and abroad.

Three sets of ducks - an interlinking dish, that is to put pigeon into wild duck, then put the wild duck into a fowl duck. When stewed, the fowl duck is tender, the wild one crisp, and the little pigeon delicate!

Boiled dry thread of Tofu - thanks to the exquisite skill of the chefs, the Tofu can be cut into very thin threads which have chances to absorb the savor of soup. When chicken pieces added to the soup, the dish is called 'chicken dry thread'; likewise, when shrimp added, it makes 'shrimp dry thread'.

Lion's head braised with crab-powder - there is a metaphor in the dish name. In actual fact the Lion's head is a conglomeration of meat that is shaped like a sunflower and resembles a lion's head. It can be braised in a clear soup, or be red-cooked in a dense soup. A seasoning of crab powder enhances the flavor.

Chinese cuisine----Zhejiang cuisine

Derived from the native cooking styles of the Zhejiang region in China, Zhejiang cuisine (Zhe cai) is one of the most famous types of cooking.

Zhejiang, as a famous coastal province, is rich in produce and has long been known as "the land of fish and rices". Naturally, therefore, it has always been a great place for eating. Especially after 1127 when Hangzhou become the capital of the Song Dynasty, moved from Kaifeng in the north. Some of the best chefs from both these cities were brought together, and as a result northern methods of cooking were introduced to the south. Now, taking in Hangzhou's fineness and diversification, Ningbo's softness and originality, and Shaoxing's pastoral interests, Zhejiang cuisine is not greasy, having instead a fresh and soft flavor with a mellow fragrance.

The cuisine consists of four styles, each originating from a city in the province: the Hangzhou style, the most well-known one, is characterized by rich variations and the utilization of bamboo shoots. Some of its representative dishes include Dongpo Pork, Jiaohua ji (beggar's chicken) and Xi Hu cu yu (West Lake fish in vinegar), Shelled shrimps cooked in Longjing tea, Fried Eel Slices and Steamed Pork in Lotus Leaves. About half the dishes on a Hangzhou menu contain bamboo shoots, which add a tender element to the food. The Shaoxing style specializes in poultry and freshwater fish, and the Ningbo style specializing in seafood, with emphasis on freshness and salty dishes. Some sources also include the Wenzhou style as a separate subdivision, characterized as the greatest source of seafood as well as poultry and livestock.

Some of the most popular dishes include:

Dongpo Pork - First created by Su Dongpo, a well-known writer and poet of the Song Dynasty, when he served as a local official of Hangzhou, Dongpo Pork is red and bright in color, oily but not greasy, crisp but not smashed, plus mellow juice.

West-lake braised fish in vinegar - is a traditional delicacy in Hangzhou. It is said that there was once a boy who made his living by fishing. When he fell ill, his sister-in-law fished for him and braised the fish she caught with a marinade of vinegar and sugar. He was said to have made an immediate recovery after eating it. The boy's story aroused the attention of the emperor and the recipe has been used ever since.

Jiaohua Young Chicken - Select fat and young Yue chicken, clean the chicken thoroughly, add seasonings to the chicken, wrap it with special materials, and bake it over a low fire. Jiaohua Young Chicken is aromatic, tasty, and soft, with tender meat.

Shelled shrimps cooked in Longjing tea - as the Longjing tea is taken from the best tea in Hangzhou, which is recognized for greenness, fragrance, pure taste and elegant looks, when the living shrimps are stir-fried in the Long tea, the dish sends an artistic aroma and is quite delicious.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

my ownership of the blog

I'm the owner of this blog, my account of mybloglog is sherry_yao

Chinese cuisine----Anhui cuisine

Anhui cuisine, Hui Cai for short, is one of the eight most famous cuisines in China. It is derived from the native cooking styles of the Huangshan Mountains region in China , comprising the specialties of South Anhui, Yangtze River region, Huai River region.

Anhui cuisine is known for its use of wild game and herbs. Most ingredients in Anhui cuisine, such as pangolin, stone frog, mushroom, bayberry, tea leaves, bamboo shoot, dates, games, etc., are from mountain area. Huangshan Mountain has abundant products for dish cooking. Huangshan Chukka has tender flesh and a sweet taste. It can be boiled in clear soup or braised in soy sauce. The dishes help relieve internal fever and build up vital energy. The white and tender bamboo shoots produced on Huangshan Mountain can be made into very delicious food. Xianggu, a kind of top-grade mushroom grows on old trees, is also very tasty.

Braising and stewing are common techniques. Frying and stir-frying are used much less frequently in Anhui cuisine than in other Chinese culinary traditions. Anhui cuisine chefs are experts especially in cooking delicacies from mountains and sea. Anhui dishes preserve most of the original taste and nutrition of the materials. Generally the food here is slightly spicy and salty. Some master dishes usually stewed in brown sauce with stress on heavy oil and sauce. Ham is often added to improve the taste and sugar candy added to gain freshness.

Some famous dishes include:
1. Stewed soft shell turtle with ham
One whole soft shell turtle, pork, ham, bamboo shoots, a clove of garlic, shallot, ginger, soy sauce, salt, rice wine, black pepper, lard are all stewed together in a pot on charcoal fire. The dish is not greasy and can lead diners to endless aftertastes.

2. Steamed stone frog
Inhabited in caves, stone frog is a special product in Huangshan Mountain. It weights 250 grams or so, whose belly is white and back black with stripe. Stone frog is rich in protein, calcium and so on. It has the functions of clearing heat, improving vision and nutrition. It is one of the best exotic dishes from mountains.

3. Bamboo shoots cooked with sausage and dried mushroom
It is one traditional flavor in Huizhou mountainous area. Cooked with sausage and dried mushrooms, the bamboo shoots are more fragrant. It is delicious, and noted for its good color, juicy meat and thick soup.

4. Li Hongzhang Hotchpotch
Li Hongzhang hotchpotch is a popular dish named after one of Anhui's famous personages. Li Hongzhang was a top official of the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD). When he was in office, he paid a visit to the US and hosted a banquet for all his American friends. As the specially prepared dishes continued to flow, the chefs, with limited resources, began to fret. Upon Li Hongzhang's order, the remaining kitchen ingredients were thrown together into an impromptu stew, containing sea cucumber, squid, tofu, ham, mushroom, chicken meat and other less identifiable food materials! Thus appetites were quenched and a dish was created.

Eight traditional Chinese cuisines

Chinese cuisine enjoys a high reputation in the world also for its sheer abundance. Due to the diversity of the climate, products, historical factors, and eating habits, there are widely different food styles and tastes in local regions. Even many minorities have their own fantastic traditions and appeal, as well as the cuisine of the majority Han people.

The most influential and typical known by the public are the 'Eight Cuisines', the distinction between which is now widely accepted. They are:
Anhui cuisine
Cantonese cuisine
Fujian cuisine
Hunan cuisine
Jiangsu cuisine
Shandong cuisine
Szechuan cuisine(Sichuan cuisine)
Zhejiang cuisine
We will give details on every of them in the following articles.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Chinese cuisine(overview): Do you like Chinese food?

Do you like Chinese food?

As one of the Chinese cultural treasures, Chinese cuisine is famous all over the world. Being harmonious integration of color, redolence, taste, shape and the fineness of the instruments, Chinese cuisine is not only about eating, but also a perfected art. It is no exaggeration to say that Chinese cuisine is dainty, in its items, esthetics, atmosphere, and effects.

Chinese cuisine has a long history, which even can be traced back to the Peking Man and his use of fire and the invention of "cuisine" some 400,000 years ago. Some other accounts of the history of Chinese cuisine takes the beginning to the Chinese stone age, where the cultivation of rice and the production of noodles, both typical representations of Chinese cuisine, are known from archeological findings.

After development and maturation over the centuries, new food sources and techniques were invented, new recipes were created. The art of food preparation reach its peak during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). The dinner called Man Han Quan Xi that incorporates all the very best of Man and Han Cuisine is held in high esteem involving as it does countless dishes, each with its own distinctive flavor and appeal. Till now, Chinese cuisine has formed a rich cultural content. It is characterized by fine selection of ingredients, precise processing, particular care to the amount of fire, and substantial nourishment.

For the cooking process, chefs pick choice and various ingredients and seasonings while employing unparalleled complicated skills handed down from their fathers, ever aspiring to their ideal of perfection for all the senses. Among the many cooking methods they use are boiling, stewing, braising, frying, steaming, crisping, baking, and simmering and so on. When they finish their masterpieces they are arranged on a variety of plates and dishes so that they are a real pleasure to view, to smell and ultimately to savor.

Chinese Cuisine can rise to many different occasions from luxury court feasts, fetes, holy sacrificial rites, joyous wedding ceremonies to simple daily meals and snacks. The art of a good cook is to provide a wholesome and satisfying dish to suit the occasion.

Are you fit enough for the trip to Tibet ?

Guess what will happen when you are in a place with an average altitude of above 4,000 meters? That’s right, AMS is common when traveling in Tibet due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. What’s AMS? How can we deal with it?

AMS is short for Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), also called Altitude Sickness. It is the biggest health risk to tourists in Tibet. The occurrence of AMS is dependent on the altitude, the ascent rate and individual physical condition. Symptoms of AMS include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, breathlessness, irritability, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep. Most visitors to Tibet will suffer from at least some symptoms that will generally disappear through acclimatization in several hours to several days. Mild AMS usually will not interfere with mild activity.

However AMS can be very serious, with the most serious symptoms being High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), which can be fatal. An elderly(77-year-old man) Hong Kong tourist died from altitude sickness on the trip to Tibet in 2006. Symptoms of HAPE include weakness, shortness of breath, even at rest, impending suffocation at night, and a persistent productive cough with white, watery, or frothy fluid. Symptoms of HPCE may include headache, ataxia, weakness, hallucinations, psychotic behavior, coma and loss of memory. Both approach and strike at night and can be fatal! Immediate descent is the surest treatment.

If you are planning a trip to Tibet, make sure that you’re in good condition both physically and psychologically. Not everyone is suitable for Tibet. Visitors who suffer from high blood pressure, respiratory problems, severe heart disease, lung, other organ problems or anemia should not travel to Tibet. If you are eager to, then at least consult your doctor before making the decision to visit Tibet.

But don’t worry too much. For people who are in good health, AMS can be lessened or avoided with proper acclimatization. Mild AMS symptoms can be treated with proper medication. If medication does not relieve the symptoms, go to hospital or evacuate immediately to safe altitude! The following is some advise when traveling in Tibet.

How to prevent or lessen the effects of AMS:


1. Avoid catching cold before you entering Tibet.

2. Rest right after your arrival. Do not over exert and only partake in light activity immediate after your arrival;

3. Drink extra fluids. The mountain air is dry and cold and moisture is lost as you breathe. Evaporation of sweat may occur unnoticed and result in dehydration.

4. Eat light, high-carbohydrate meals for more energy.

5. Don't smoke, drink alcohol or take other depressants such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills. These will depress the respiratory drive and limit oxygen intake.

6. Don't push yourself when climbing up to passes, rather take plenty of breaks.

7. Do not take showers or bathes too frequently especially on your first night in Tibet. This will help you avoid catching severe colds.

8. Warm clothes should be taken to keep away the cold due to the large temperature differences during any given day in Tibet. And it also receives a great deal of sunshine, sunglasses, suntan oil, and a sun hat are indispensable items.

9. It is significant that you report any symptoms of AMS immediately to other group members in the trip.


Please bear in mind that traveling in Tibet on the whole, is more challenging than in any other part of China.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

travel to Tibet: Tibetan Mastiff


Tibetans love dogs, it’s very common that Tibetan families keep dogs as pets. And the most popular and treasure one must be Tibetan Mastiff, also called Do-Khyi. Tibetan Mastiff is now famous world-wide for its impressive appearance and unique temperament.

The Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient working breed of the nomad herders of the Himalaya and a traditional guardian of the Tibetan monasteries. There are many records of Tibetan mastiff in history. From the mentioning by Aristoteles (384-322 b.C.) to the famous writings of Marco Polo, who went to Asia in 1271, all historical reports praise the natural strength and impressiveness of the Tibetan Mastiff- both physically and mentally. Even its bark has been described as a unique and highly treasured feature of the breed. Marco Polo described them as "tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as that of a lion". Leading European cynologists of the past, like Martin and Youatt, Megnin, Beckmann, Siber as well as Strebel and Bylandt have intensively covered the Tibetan Mastiff, as they had been fascinated by its origin and function in the Tibetan culture. Some even considered the breed to be the very forefather of all large mountain and mastiff breeds. One of the first known Tibetan Mastiffs to reach Western shores was a male sent to Queen Victoria by Lord Hardinge (then Viceroy of India) in 1847. Later in the 1880s, Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) took two dogs back to England. An early recorded litter of Tibetan Mastiffs was born in 1898 in the Berlin Zoo.

The Tibetan Mastiff is among the largest breeds. Its sturdy bone structure and large, wide head makes it appear considerably more massive than other dogs of a similar height. A Tibetan Mastiff is 24-28 inches tall (at shoulder) and weighs 140-180 pounds. It is typical mastiff type but not as heavy. Their tail is stretched to the back in loose curl. They have a coat of medium length but with a thick undercoat.

Tibetan Mastiff is a courageous dog with strong protective instincts. He has spirit, initiative and courage, with no trace of timidity although he does take the time to size up a situation before acting. The Tibetan Mastiff possesses an excellent memory, is intelligent and easily trained, faithful, gentle with children and obedient. Although aloof with strangers, he has a desire to please and is a good-natured family companion, playful on invitation and generally impressive by his dignity upon reaching maturity.

travel to Tibet: Tibetan antelope

In Tibetan plateau, there living a very rare species named Tibetan antelope. I haven’t known anything about it till watch the impressive film, Kekexili: Mountain Patrol, which was portrayed in the 2004 telling about the struggle to stop illegal antelope hunting. Today we are going to talk about this topic--- Tibetan antelope.

Tibetan antelope, also known commonly by its Tibetan name chiru, is native to the Tibetan plateau including China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai province, and Xinjiang province; India near Ladakh, formerly western Nepal. Its numbers have dropped accordingly from nearly a million (estimated) at the turn of the 20th century to less than 75,000 today. The numbers continue to drop yearly. Tibetan antelope are listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service due to commercial poaching for their wool, competition with local domesticated herds, and the development of their rangeland for gold mining.

The coat of the Tibetan antelope is made of some of the world's finest hair, measuring three-quarters the width of cashmere and one-fifth that of human hair. The antelope’s wool, which is woven into the luxury fabric “shahtoosh”, is warm, soft and fine. Shahtoosh shawls are so fine that they can be threaded through a wedding ring -- earning them the nickname "ring shawls." Shahtoosh as the hair is known, from the Persian "king of wools" is woven into scarves and shawls that sell up to 10,000USD in markets around the world.

Unfortunately, unlike other cashmere wool, which can be sheared off an animal, the wool of the antelope can only be obtained by killing the animal. The Cruelly slaughtering Tibetan antelopes is an eloquent witness to insatiable greed of Man. So the main threat to the species is the demand for shahtoosh. Extensive global media coverage during 1999 and 2000 alerted the public to the critical status of the Tibetan antelope. Unless consumer demand for shahtoosh can be eliminated, the species may be forced to the brink of extinction.

Now the protection system of Tibetan antelope has developed. A lot of protections come from Chinese government, international countries and volunteers. Though we still have a long way to go, we hope that Tibetan antelope can be well protected through the big efforts and international cooperation.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

travel to Tibet: Tibetan Handicrafts

The traditional handcrafts representative of the Tibetan culture are favorite souvenirs for visitors. Many of them involve complicate craftworks and producing process, reflecting the intelligence of Tibetan people. The patterns and colors of Tibetan handicrafts are very different from those in central China, due to their respective living condition and cultural background.

Tourists can find these handcrafts in a lot of place. The Bakhor Street in Lhasa is the most famous small commodity center. And many handcrafts from Shigatse is most well-known, which is also an excellent place to both see and purchase these intriguing handcrafts.

Tibetan knives

Tibetan Knives are traditional and well-known handicrafts with a peculiar style. A Tibet knife, to a certain degree is a symbol of Tibet and would make a wonderful keepsake of your trip.

They are indispensable in a Tibetan's life. Tibetans use them as the tools to defend, to slaughter livestock and to eat meat. Tibetans have a sense of security with knives because Tibetan look might and valiant with knives.

Tibetan knife is of great importance not only for its practical use in daily life but also for its artistic value. There are two categories: one for man and another for woman. Men’s knives tend to be more curly and sharper while women’s are delicate. The most well-known Tibetan knives are Lhatse knife and XieTongMen knife in Shigates Region, whose delicate decorations are unique from those in other regions. Shigates knives are usually made of fine steel, with other materials like bronze, silver, iron, sharkskin, ox horn, agate and wood for decoration. Moreover, some of them are studded with gems. Thus, they are more expensive than the normal knives.

Tips: You cannot bring Tibetan knives with you when you take a plane. But you may post them by post office.

Tibetan Carpets / Rug

In Tibetan house, you can find some attractive Tibetan cushions, making the house more glorious. In general, there are some beautiful embroiders on the cushions, such as swimming dragons, running deer, flying phoenixes, flying butterflies, mountains and waters. Besides those mentioned above, the embroiders of some cushions may also include historic stories, tales, etc. The cushion is made from pure sheep wool. The pigment is a local product which can make cushions colorful. They are hand-knitted. The patterns of Tibetan cushions are special and various. Cushions from Shigatse are the most well known for their design and color.

Apart from Tibetan cushion, there are Tibetan carpets, which include backing carpets, saddle carpets, sleeping carpets and normal carpets. All of them are produced with similar procedures. The size varies, from less than one square meter or more than ten square meters. Tibetan carpets have a long history and have been famous all over the world.

Tibetan cushion/carpets are the combination of practicality and charm.

Masks

About Tibetan sculpture, there is one more special kind handicraft-masks, which is called Ba in Tibetan and mainly used in the various folk performances. Generally speaking, they are divided into “a dance to worship deity mask”, “hanging mask” and “Tibetan opera mask”. The first kind masks are mainly used in some important festivals, including the masks of ghosts, Gods, immortals and animal totems while the second ones are usually related to people daily life.

According to the historic record, the history of masks may date back to A.D. 779 when Tibet was under the rule of a great king, Songtsen Gampo. At that time, people wore various masks in the important festivals and pretended to be lions, tigers, oxes and leopards to dance. Tibetan masks usually have a inclination of expression and symbolization which is extensive and exaggerated. The styles of Tibetan masks are diverse from region to region. The masks in the mid-Tibet are serious while those in the east of Tibet are monstrous.

Thangka( A scroll painting in Tibet)

Thangka is a type of scroll painting done on damask or cloth and it is also an excellent representation of Tibetan art. Featuring Buddhists, folktales and fables, Thangka is full of religious symbolism. Thangka are typically used as decorations, however they are collector's items as well. The species of thangka are various. Its size may be over ten square meters or only smaller than one square meter. In general, its size is between one and two square meters. Thangka has various categories. It may be divided into three categories: embroidery, painting and printing.

Silver ornaments

Tibetan bracelets, rings, earrings and necklaces are very exquisite, usually made fromTibetan silver and bronze, with sanskrits carved on the surfaces, having a sense of mystique. Tibetans wear crescent-shaped silver ornaments, which symbolize purity studded with agate gems symbolizing health and good luck. Red or blue Tibetan ornaments imply that the owner has a strong will to survive in the nature. It needs to be pointed out that there is a grain on the back side of genuine Tibetan ornaments. Also, the grain is not carved or printed, but is melted on it with brass wires through them.

In the past, the ornaments were made from alloy, containing 30% of Tibetan silver. But nowadays, Tibetan silver found in the market is mainly alloy. Some people refer to the archaized alloy as Tai Silver (a special name for 925 pure silver).

travel to Tibet: Tibet Railway


Tibet Railway, China's first railway to Tibet, was launched on July 1, 2006. Billed as one of the most dramatic railway in the world, it closely connects mainland China and remote Tibet, which will speed up economic development. It is obvious that the railway will enhance tourism to both Qinghai Province as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region, thus bringing prosperity to that part of West China that until now has not enjoyed all the benefits attributable to the tourist industry.

If you want to travel to Tibet, Currently Tibet Railway is the best option. Why? Comparing to plane and bus, the new rail link provides the traveler with a more convenient, comfortable, safer and economical way to go to Tibet. The Tibet Railway offers the tourist the opportunity to see more of the wonderful landscape that is unique to the 'roof of the world'.

Considered to be miraculous, the difficulty of building a railway on a plateau is incredible, due to the high altitude and complex geographical environment. During the construction of the railway, three challenges regarded as international problems are encountered - permafrost, a fragile ecological environment, and lack of oxygen. It took almost 6 years to finish the project. The following is the details about the three challenges and Characters of Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Permafrost - a mixture of soil and ice under 0 C - expands in winter and contracts in summer. As the railroad is built upon this kind of soil, the railroad bed will easy to sink. Different measures are taken to overcome this according to differing sections - permafrost areas are avoided where possible, bridges built instead of the railroad descending and ascending valley contours, and some new materials like heat transfer prevention planks are used to guarantee the stability of the railroad bed on the perennial frozen soil.

The second challenge facing in the construction is the fragile ecological environment. As the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the cradle of many rivers, it has a unique and fragile ecosystem. In order to lessen the damage to the greater extent within Kekexili and other two Nature Reserves that the railway passes through, the railroad avoids the direct long distance route where possible, and instead circumvents these areas, with the Flora and Fauna also protected as much as possible.

The third difficulty - lack of oxygen - was a major thread to the Tibet Railroad builders. Between the Kekexili and Tanggula mountain ranges, the temperature is extremely low and oxygen content quite rarefied. Under such a harsh and extreme climate, it was a challenge to builders of the railroad. To ensure the health of these workers, 17 oxygen-making stations were constructed.

Train

The trains and the 45 railway stations are a combination of the full-bodied Tibetan building style and advanced construction techniques. As the lack of oxygen is the primary threat to passenger health, two systems are employed to supply enough oxygen throughout the train. Firstly, oxygen dispersed into the carriages ensures the oxygen requirement of passengers. Secondly, oxygen masks conveniently located beside each seat are also available should anoxia appear. Doctors on the trains also offer expert medical treatment both day and night.

The spacious bunks, TV entertainment, and Tibetan style cabins offer passengers all the comforts they would find in their own homes. In addition, a bar and cafeteria provide a place where passengers can relax.

The trains to Tibet have also been equipped with the latest advanced garbage and sewage management and disposal facilities. To avoid the threat of the terrible thunder near the Tanggula Pass with an altitude of over 5,000 meters (16,404 feet), the first-class equipments avoiding the thunder's destroy to the train have been installed.

Railway Station

With 45 train stations in all, Lhasa and Tanggula stations are of the most charismatic, though all the stations blend the local architecture styles with the modern construction techniques. To protect the environment, proper sewage disposal measures are taken, along with solar and wind energy being wildly used.

Lhasa Railway Station with its main colours of white and red is a typical traditional Tibetan style building and faces the famous Potala Palace. With an altitude of 5,068 meters (16,627 feet), and stands at the foot of Tanggular Mountain, Tanggula Station is the highest railway station in the world. It is also one of the nine major sightseeing stations from where visitors can appreciate the mignificent scene of the permanently snow covered Tanggula Mountain.

Animal Protection

As Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the habitat for rare wild animals, in order to guarantee the normal living and migration of the rare wild animals such as Tibetan antelopes on the plateau, 33 migration routes are built, catering for their living requirements and migration routes.

In the history of China's railway construction, this is the first time that special routes for wild animals are a part of the design. Different channels cater to different species; routes over tunnels for animals living in mountainous areas, and under bridges for animals on the plains. Every traveler will marvel at the harmony between natural and the man-made during the trip.

Environmental Protection

Extensive measures to avoid pollution to the local environment, both during, and after construction have been taken. Great attention has also been paid to the vegetations, lakes, swamp and all other environments along the railroad. The route for support vehicles and railway personnel are strictly controlled, thus reducing the damage to the environment. The railroad avoided the swamp areas to a greatest possible extent. Bridges are built above the lakes instead of following the shoreline. In addition, the number of railway stations is greatly restricted to decrease the effect to the environment and effective sewage treatment measures having been adopted in both stations and trains to Tibet.

travel to Tibet: Tibetan Medicine

Can you believe that there are some medicines made from mineral? This is what we are going to talk about today.

When exploring Tibet, there is one thing couldn’t be missed. That’s Tibetan Medicine, one of the oldest medical traditions in the world. Through a long history, Tibetan Medicine has constituted a peerless medical system that caters in particular to the specific needs of the unique natural, economic and cultural environments of Tibet. Now, Tibetan medichine is famous throughout the world, such as glossy ganoderma, Tibetan red flower, awetoes, Procapra horns, snow lotus.

Deemed to be one of the five great inventions by the Tibetan people, it does not originate from India or regions of other ethnics; instead it was the intelligent crystallization of the Tibetan people that took its form in their thousands of years of wrestle with diseases on the Plateau. They get medical raw materials from plants, herbs, animals, minerals, coral and crab shell from the ocean. Currently the number of recorded Tibetan Medicine has already hit 2,294, while over 300 are widely used. Tibetan Medicine features the appropriate combination of different medicines and the complex relevant processing. Thus some of them are very expensive. As mysterious and valuable as Tibetan Buddhism, its practical utilization is getting more and more recognition and many scientists make researches on the Medicine both at home and abroad.

After combining the medical knowledge of Tibet with that of traditional China, India, Nepal and other countries, even embracing some traditional Buddhist belief, Tibetans have come up with their own approach to medical science. According to the Tibetan medical system. good health depends on the proper balance of diet, behavior, environment, and psychological and social factors. It’s believed that ignorance of the five basic elements, namely earth, air, fire, water, and space, which interact with each other, is deemed as the cause of disease and disorders in Tibetan medical tradition. The cure lies in the capability of balancing these elements.

Tibetan medicine system has complex approach to diagnosis, incorporating techniques such as interviewing of the patient, urinalysis, and pulse reading. A Tibetan doctor first speaks to the patient and finds out his medical record. Urinalysis helps the doctor to confirm the nature of illness by the color and odor of the urine specimen and the size, color, amount and persistence of bubbles after vigorous stirring of the specimen. Reading the pulse is a crucial factor for diagnosis as the doctor checks it to further define the illness. Physical therapies such as acupuncture, moxabustion, phlebotomy (Phlebotomy - the act or practice of opening a vein by incision or puncture to remove blood as a therapeutic treatment. Also called venesection.) are also used to treat illness.

travel to Tibet: Tibetan Buddhism


Beside the majestic scenery, the exotic religion in Tibet also attracts more and more tourists every year. Tibet, the lost paradise under the sky, is undoubtedly a place where the spirit lives! It’s said that a man will get to be faithful and humble while here even if he is not a Buddhist, due to the sacred and religious atmosphere.

Almost all Tibetans follow Tibetan Buddhism, known as Lamaism. Although Tibet is a part of China, Tibet Buddhism is a unique culture and religion belief of all there own, alien to Chinese Buddhism. It was greatly influenced by Indian Buddhism in its early time, but after years of evolution, Tibetan Buddhism has developed its own distinctive qualities and practices.

There are two important figures in Tibetan Buddhism: Dalai and Panchen, each of which is believed as a Living Buddha (who is the reincarnation of the first). It’s very mysterious! In Tibet, most monasteries as well as ordinary Tibetan families enshrine and worship the statues or portraits of Dalai and Panchen Lamas. Tibetans say that Dalai and Panchen are just like the sun and moon in the sky.

Tibetan Buddhism inhabits most Tibetans' hearts. An impressive scene is that the devotional pilgrims progress toward their places of worship by prostrating themselves under the sky and along the roads, making people humble and modest. In addition, Tibet has various festivals which commonly are performed to worship the Buddha throughout the year. Join anyone of them, you will get a special and memorable feeling in a lifetime. Also, Tourists can visit local families and experience the real life of Tibetans. Enjoying the local food and dancing with beautiful Tibetan girls may add extra happiness to your visit.

During a long history of development, a great deal of splendid monasteries, vivid murals and sculptures, and solemn stupas were built to worship the unparalleled Buddha. Lhasa and Shigatse, the most important cities of Tibet, feature most of the religious monuments including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Ramoche Monastery, Tashilunpo Monastery and Sakya Monastery. Besides the monasteries, sacred mountains and holy lakes are also great places to show the Tibetan peoples' devotion to Buddha.

travel to Tibet: Namjagbarwa Peak


Located in Nyingchi Region of Tibet, Namjagbarwa Peak, is not common at all. With a height of 7,782-meters, it’s the 15th highest peak in the world. According to the Chinese National Geography's October Issue, it’s the NO.1 among the " Top Ten Most Beautiful Mountains in China". Travelers, who yearns for the beauty of natural paradise, will certainly get an incredible experience from the picturesque landscape.

In Tibetan, Namjagbarwa means a "long lance piercing into the sky”. The sky-scraping Namjagbarwa Peak, with its majestic appearance, precipitous shape and unpredictable climate, has been an ambitious aim of mountain-climbing organizations from various countries. Existed for over 700 million years, it’s first conquered by a Sino-Japanese mountaineering team in 1992.

From the foot of Namjagbarwa, upwards to the 7,782 meters summit, tourists can enjoy the following sequence of ecological systems: tropical low mountain evergreen or semi-evergreen monsoon rain forests; sub-tropical mountain evergreen and semi-evergreen broadleaf forests; warm temperate mid-mountain evergreen conifer forests; sub-frigid alpine bushes and grassy marshland; and sub-frigid alpine ice source and frigid ultra-alpine ice and snow. This great abundance of mountain eco-systems, mountain vegetation forms and bio-communities is compressed in one tight area; it can be rated the best in the world, and as a world natural museum of mountain vegetation forms.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

travel to Tibet: Mt. Everest

What’s the highest peak in the world? Right, that’s Mt. Everest, also known as Mt. Qomolangma. Snow capped throughout the year, the altitude of Mt. Everest is now about 8,844.43 m. (29,017 ft.). Its Tibetan meaning of 'Goddess the Third' adds more mysterious color and magic power to the subject. As a result, it has intrigued all kinds of people since it was first discovered. Pilgrims trek long distances to present a pious worship, adventurers and mountaineers run great risks to challenge its high altitude, and the common tourists also yearn for a reverent look at this holy peak.

Located on the border between Sagarmatha Zone, Nepal, and Tibet, China, it is the dominant peak of Himalayas. The area has 4 peaks above 8,000 m. (26,247 ft.) and 38 peaks above 7,000 m. (22,965 ft.), hence the laudatory title 'the Third Pole of the Earth'.

Though Climbing Mt. Everest is very dangerous since the harsh conditions included strong wind, freezing temperatures and a lack of oxygen, it attracts climbers of all levels, from well experienced mountaineers to novice climbers. In 1953, Tenzing and Hillary made the first successful ascent. Before descending, they buried a few sweets and a small cross in the snow. On 8 May 1978, Reinhold Messner (Italy) and Peter Habeler (Austria) made the first ascent without supplemental oxygen. In 2008, Chinese athletes (a 19-member team) took the Olympic torch to the top of Mt. Everest.

As the supreme point of the world, Mt. Everest is also blessed with many extreme wonders. The top part of the mountain is covered with snow all the year round. When the glaring sun shines on the mountain, the peak is just like a white pyramid miraculously transformed by the Goddess, leading us to imagine her semblance further. More often than not, the thick freely moving clouds and fogs, seeming as if a flag with the mast of the peak was swinging, will shroud the peak. This peculiar phenomenon of Mt. Everest is known as 'Flag Cloud'. An additional wonder generated here are the bright glaciers, where ices are formed into various shapes like bridges, pagodas and others. You can also find miles of efflorescent rock physiognomy there, such as stalagmites, stelae, stone sword, and stone pagodas. The climbing pathfinders call this splendor at such high attitude 'the Largest Park on the High Mountain'.

The area of Mt. Everest has been built as one of the national natural reserves, wherein live thousands of kinds of plants, hundreds of varieties of wild animals and dense virgin forests. Many of these are precious and rare, like the first-class protected animal ounces and the valuable timber sandals, etc.

At the foot of Mt. Everest is located the highest temple in the world, Rongbuk Monastery. At the altitude of about 5000 m. (16,404 ft.) and 25 km. (15.5 mi.) in the distance, it is also the best point to appreciate the scenery of Mt. Everest. Rongbuk Glacier around this area is also the largest among all the glaciers here.

travel to Tibet: The Jokhang Temple

Included on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 2000 as part of the Potala Palace , the Jokhang Temple is located in central Lhasa in Tibet. With an area of 25,100 square meters (about six acres), it is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Pilgrims. Being an example of the earliest architecture in Tibet, it was built in Tang Dynasty architectural style with characteristics of Nepalese and Indian architecture.

History

The Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), was characterized by economic prosperity and great progress in politics. During this time, China was considered the cultural and political center of the world. King Songtsem Gampo (617 – 650, the 33rd king of Tibet) was the leader of the Tubo (or Tibetan) Kingdom. He actively promoted Buddhism in Tibet and under his reign, Tibet achieved great progress in social innovation and realized the integration of Tibet for the first time. In order to promote friendly relationships with the neighboring countries, he successively married Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty. When the two wives arrived in Tibet, each brought a statue of Jowo Sakyamuni. During this time, most people lived in tents and there were few palaces. To house the Buddha brought by Princess Wen Cheng, King Songtsem Gampo constructed the Little Jokhang. Jealous of her, Princess Burikuti asked Gampo to build a Jokhang for her as well. Therefore, in 647 the giant complex was built.

The original complex included only eight shrines. After multiple renovations, most notably during the Yuan Dynasty (1206 - 1368), the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the complex grew to the scale that exists today.

Legend

The Jokhang Temple was built on the former site of a lake. According to the legend, the lake site was chosen after many failed attempts to build a temple in the region. Prior to this, every time a temple was built, it would collapse. Confused by this phenomenon, Princess Bhrikuti turned to Wen Cheng for help. Being a learned woman, Wen Cheng told the Princess that the geography of Tibet was very much like a hag, with the lake at the heart. In order to build the temple, Wen Cheng advised they must demolish the hag by filling and leveling the lake using 1,000 sheep to carry soil from a mountain far away. When the temple was done, it was called Ra-Sa-Vphrul-Snang ('ra' meaning sheep and 'sa' meaning earth in Tibetan) to commemorate those sheep.

Whether the legend is true or not, this temple brought Buddhism into Tibet and became an inseparable part of Tibetan history and culture. The city of Ra-Sa grew around the temple and over time, become known as Lhasa, a holy land.

Layout

The Jokhang Temple is a four-storey timber complex with a golden top. It adopted the architectural styles of the Tang Dynasty, as well as those of Tibet and Nepal.

Standing in the square of the Jokhang Temple, one can view the entire complex. On the square there are two steles, one recording an alliance between the king of Tibet and the emperor of the Tang, the other portraying the teaching of the Tibetan people to prevent and treat smallpox, a once incurable disease in Tibet.

In the eastern section of the yard there are rows of votive lights. These flicking lights provide a path leading all the way to the main hall. The main hall, over 1,300 years old, is the oldest shrine of the complex. Above the major entrance, there is a Dharma Wheel (chakra) flanked by two deer. This represents the unity of all things and symbolizes Sakyamuni himself. On both sides of the passageway, paintings showing the building of the temple, and renderings of the temple from the seventh century are adorned on the wall. The statue of Sakyamuni at age 12 sits in the middle of the hall. It has been gilded many times and decorated elaborately with jewels typical of Tibet. Statues of King Songtsem Gampo, Princess Wen Cheng and Princess Bhrikuti are on the second floor. On the top floor, there are four gilded bronze tile tops crafted in the emblematical Tang style.

About the Statue of Sakyamuni

The statue of Sakyamuni is a rare treasure. When Sakyamuni was alive, he disagreed with the idea of 'personal worship' and did not allow likenesses of himself to be created. Only three statues, designed by he himself, were permitted to be sculpted during his lifetime. The first is a likeness of him at age eight; the second shows him at age twelve when he was still a prince of India; and the third is of him as an adult. The statue kept in the Jokhang Temple is the statue of Sakyamuni at age eight. It was presented to the king of the Tang Dynasty and brought to Tibet by Princess Wen Cheng.

travel to Tibet: The Potala Palace

Considered to be a model of Tibetan architecture, the Potala Palace is famous for its grand buildings, complicated constructions, devotional atmosphere and splendid artworks. In 1994, the palace joined the list of world cultural heritage sites. Definitely a must see in Tibet!

There is a romantic story about the Potala Palace, which is true! Over 1,300 years ago, Princess Wencheng left the flourishing city, Chang'an (capital of Tang Dynasty and the current Xi'an in Shaanxi province) and took a 3,000-km journey to Tibet for the marriage with Songtsan Gambo, the famous Tubo king. After her arrival, Songtsan Gambo had the Potala Palace built for Princess Wencheng. This structure was later burned to the ground during a war and was rebuilt in 1645 by the Fifth Dalai Lama. Since then, Potala Palace has become the seat of Dalai Lamas and also the political center of Tibet. The thirteenth Dalai Lama extended it to the present size, 117 meters (384 ft) in height and 360 meters (1,180 ft) in width, covering an area of more than 130, 000 sq meters (about 32 acres).

Located on the Red Hill of Lhasa, this ancient architectural complex is mainly comprised by the White Palace (administerial building) and the Red Palace (religious building). The White Palace, comprising halls, temples and courtyards, serves as the living quarters of the Dalai Lama. The Red Palace includes various chambers for worshipping Buddha and chambers housing the eight stupa that contain the remains of fifth through thirteenth Dalai Lama. All the stupas are covered with gold foil. The most magnificent stupa belongs to the fifth Dalai Lama. It is 14.85 meters tall and inlaid with pearl and jade. The palace also collected a large number of sculptures, murals, scripture and other valuable cultural relics.

Warm Suggestion:
According to the local custom, you have to tour clockwise around; don't step on the doorsill; don't smoke in the halls; don't take photos without permission!
It is not easy for visitors to climb to the top building because of its height, so you'd better slow down. Because the halls are always chilly; you'd better take a coat while visiting!
Potala Palace is allowed less than 2300 tourists and pilgrims to enter each day. Therefore we suggest you prepare for a successful trip by purchasing tickets beforehand. Please note that when buying your tickets, you have to show your ID card or passport.


More details about King Songtsan Gambo and Princess Wencheng:

Since Songtsan Gambo and Princess Wencheng married, an era on friendly terms between Tang Dynasty and Tibet initiates.

Based upon "Quan Tang Shu" (A book covers the history of Tang Dynasty), within 200 years after the first year of Zhenguan of Emperor Tang Taizong, the 2nd emperor of the Tang Dynasty, Tibetan culture met a great developing period and Tibetan and Han people intimately associated with each other along the Tang-Tubo Ancient Road. Envoys from the two sides have stepped on this road for 142 times. During that period, the unique Tubo civilization was formed since Tibetan culture absorbed the advanced elements from inland and nearby countries.

Princess Wencheng has brought not only the advanced culture and technology, but also Han people's deep love to Tibetans. Till now, Princess Wencheng is still respected and worshipped by Tibetans while the history of Princess Wencheng's long journey to Tibet becomes a model for friendly association between Tibetans and Han people.

Tibetan cities: Nyingchi


Nyingchi is my favorite city in Tibet! I sincerely ask you never miss it while traveling to Tibet. With snow-capped peaks and crystal-clear rivers, attractive valley, beautiful lake, splendid waterfall, majestic mountains, thick forest as well as the ancient Buddhist temples, Nyingchi looks just like heaven on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Trust me, there is no reason miss such a place full of charm!

Nyingchi, "throne of the sun" in Tibetan, is located in southeast Tibet. Encircled by Himalaya, Nyenchhen Tanglha Mountains and the Hengduan mountains, situated at the lower reaches of Yarlung Tsangpo River, such a unique geographical location contributes to its various tourist resources.

Now start the trip to get relaxation physically and psychologically. With many to do and see, first, have a visit to Yarlung Tsangpo River. Being called 'Heaven River', it is the mother river of the Tibetan people who have created the brilliant Tibetan culture. Originating from a glacier on the northern Himalayas, it’s the highest river on the earth with an average altitude of 4,000 meters (13,120 feet). With a length of over 1,278 miles, it is the fifth longest river of China. The Yarlung Tsangpo River has many branches and it has the second largest natural hydropower capacity of rivers in China. Lying at the lower reaches of the river, the Yarlung Tsangpo River Valley is the deepest and the longest valley in the world, a nice place for visitors to see the wonder of nature.

The beauty of Nyingchi also lies in the lakes. The most well-known lake is the Baksum Tso Lake. When one stands on the shoreline of this majestic lake, the thoughts of the inspiring Swiss Alps come to mind. Fish are shoaling in the water, birds are circling in the air and beasts are roaming in the nearby forest. Animals are living a comfortable and easy life in Basum. Admiring the reflection of the snow mountain in the water is quite fantastic. In 1997, the lake was listed by World Tourism Organization as a world tourist site. A little smaller than the Baksum Tso Lake, the Yigong Lake has a lower elevation and is reputed for its well-preserved ecology.

Also, the splendid waterfalls here deserve a visit. You may have ever heard of the Tiger's Mouth Waterfall. It is named by its earthshaking noise when the water falls, just like a tiger is roaring. It is said that the most beautiful scenery is at the sunset when the rainbow can be seen. The Hanmi Waterfall attracts visitors by its multiple layers and high drop height.

Beautiful as Nyingchi's water, mountains here are considered to be holy and mysterious. Situated in the southeast of Nyingchi County and the northern side of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, the Mount Benri used to be regarded as a holy mountain by the original religion of Tibet; while the Mount Sejila, lying to the east of Nyingchi County, boasts of the colorful azaleas on the mountain. And the Namjagbarwa Peak, is one of the Top Ten Most Beautiful Mountains in China, ranked by China National Geoegraphy Magazine.

The complex and unique geographic and climate conditions provide Tibet a museum of wildlife. Rare and unique plants and animals exist only in this area on the earth. If visitors want to learn more about the local vegetation cover, they may choose to go to the Cibagou Natural Reserve or the Lulang Forest. However, Nyingchi also has its human landscapes. Going to the Bujiu Lamasery, Daze Temple, Paga Temple and the Xiuba Ancient Castle will let visitors learn something about the history of the Tibetan Buddhism.

Tibetan cities: Shigatse

Shigatse, also named Xigatse, is the second largest city in Tibet, inferior to Lhasa. It is the administrative centre of a vast area that includes most of west-central Tibet.

Shigatse, literally meaning 'the fertile land', sits in the plain at the confluence of the Yarlong Tsangpo and Nyangchu Rivers, where Tibet's most fertile land is to be found. The latter flows from southeast to northwest, watering a broad, beautiful valley 100 kilometres long, with Gyantse at one end and Shigatse at the other. It is one of Tibet's richest farming areas. Barley, rape seed, wheat, beans and many varieties of vegetables colour the valley with all shades of green in summer, and with bright yellow patches in June and July, when the rape flower is in bloom.

The city is also the cultural, economic and political center of Tibet. Its long history gives this city a strong cultural heritage, especially in respect of Buddhism. The approximately 600 year-old majestic Tashilhunpo Monastery is a must see in Shigatse, which has a magnificent architectural style with a golden roof and resplendent buildings. The monastery is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, one of the spiritual leaders in Tibet, also it’s one of Tibet's four greatest monasteries. Besides, dozens of monasteries belonging to different sects enhance the atmosphere of Buddhism. Various grand festivals like Buddha Unveiling Festival in the monasteries each year give people a chance to admire the huge portraits of three Buddhas.

In addition, as one of the world's highest cities, Shigatse has beautiful high plateau scenery. It is also a hot spot for Chinese tourism. Shigatse is of great importance for its location in this area. It is 300 kilometers (about 186 miles) away from the world's highest peak Mt. Everest, 150 kilometers (about 93 miles) away from the Sakya Monastery and also on the only path to Tibet's holy lakes. Thus Shigatse is quite an important base for people heading for those places.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tibetan cities: Ngari (Ali)

Ngari or Ali, lying at the northwest of Tibet, with an average elevation of over 14,763 feet, Ngari is reputed as "ridge of the world roof", where hundreds of streams and rivers wind through thousands of snow-clad mountains.

Due to the special conditions, Ngari is one of the most dissicult areas for tourism in the world. Maybe,you have to confront the scorching sun, bitter cold , lack of oxygen, mountain sickness, blizzards, burning ultraviolet rays and worst road. Yet after undergoing all this, almost every tourist to Ngari fells his or her journey to Ngari is the most exciting experience in his or her life.

One feature of Ngari is the animal husbandry here. Ngari is the second largest base of live-stock products in Tibet. On this vast plateau of 345,000 square kilometers, there live 80,000 Tibetans who are mainly engaged in animal husbandry or farming-livestock raising.

Someone says that the landscapes here are just like the extraterrestrial environment. The three most majestic mountain ranges in the world: the Himalayes, Gangdise and Karakunlun embrace Ngari, making it a desolate pole of the world. Nevertheless, many attractions including the Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarova , the Ruins of the Guge Kingdom and the Tholing Monastery are worth traveling.

Pulan County

Located in the Pulan County of Ngari, the Mount Kailash is one of the main peaks of the Gangdese Mountains. Having an elevation of 22,050 feet, the top of the mount has been covered with snow for years. There are 28 modern glaciers, mainly cirque glaciers and hanging glacierson running along the mountain. Considered as a holy mount, Mount Kailash has been worshipped by people from home and abroad since one thousand years ago.

The Lake Manasarova is just 18.6 miles away to the southeast of the Mount Kailash. Being 15,052 feet high above sea-level, it is one of the highest fresh water lakes of the world. Covering an area of over 154 square miles, the lake is about 266 feet deep at the deepest area. The legend says that there used to be numerous treasures lying on the lakebed.

Near the Lake Manasarova is the Lake Raksas Tal. Because of its variety of colors, it is also called the Ghost Lake. The scene there is so peaceful that it feels like the edge of the universe. In addition, there is a small temple named Kejia Temple situated in this county. Although it is small, the murals and Buddha figures inside the temple were preserved and worth viewing.

Historically, Pulan County of Ngari is an important trade port of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Situated near India and Nepal, Pulan International Market is a cross-border market where Indian and Nepalese commodities such as fabric piece goods, perfumes and cosmetics trade.

Zhada County

There are mainly three attractions located in Zheda County, namely Ruins of Guge Kingdom, the Tholing Monastery and the Mound Forest. Having a history of 1,300 years, the Ruins of Guge Kingdom was actually the remains of the ancient Guge Kingdom which reigned between 10th and 17th Century. Constructed on the basis of an earth hill, it is more than 984 feet high consisting of palaces, temples, pagodas and caves.

The Tholing Monastery is situated in the northwestern parts of the county, near the Xiangquan River. Built by the Guge Kingdom during the Northern Song Dynasty (386-581), it was the first Buddhist temple in Ngari. Close to the Tholing Monastery is the Mound Forest, which showcases the unique naturally made mounds on both sides of the Xiangquan River.

Rituo County

The most well-known attraction in Rituo County can be the Bangong Lake. It is really a peaceful world of the local birds. So visitors can not only savor the beautiful scenery there, but also can they watch the various birds living on the bird's islands; while the site of the Rituo Rock Mural lies to the northeast of the Bangong Lake. The paintings on the wall inside the caves are mainly figures of Buddha and some ancient dancers.

Tibetan cities: Lhasa

We have every reason to visit Lhasa when coming to Tibet. Situated in the South Central part of Tibet, Lhasa is rightly one of the most featured and dreamt-about cities in the world. Differing from the inland cities and other places in Tibet, Lhasa is unique and spiritual with an allure all of its own.

As the capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Lhasa is the center of Tibet's politics, economy and culture. The city has also been appointed as one of the 24 historical and cultural cities of China.

Literally meaning the Holy Land or the Buddha Land in the Tibetan language, Lhasa has impressive heritage of over a thousand years of cultural and spiritual history that has helped to create the romantic and mysterious Tibetan religion. While in Lhasa, first visit the Potala Palace, which is a world-famous symbol of Tibet and sacred in Tibetan people's hearts. Another must-see attraction is the Jokhang Temple, richly decorated with Tibetan features, it’s the place where tourists can go to get a real taste of Tibetan culture. In addition, the three main monasteries in Lhasa are also not to be missed. They are Sera Monastery, Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery.

After a thousand years of vicissitudes, it has managed to retain its ancient palace, thick with religious history, its ancient temples, relics and streets whilst simultaneously keeping pace with modern society. Enjoy your time in Lhasa !

travel to Tibet: overview

Tibet (Tibet Autonomous Region, TAR for short), the most amazing and mysterious area of China, got into the limelight at home and abroad these years. Its majestic scenery (such as white snow capped mountains, verdant virgin forests, clean running rivers and tranquil beautiful lakes, etc), mysterious and exotic religious culture, and wonderful people, offer numerous topics that we can talk about. First, let’s get start with an overview.

Renowned as the Roof of the World, Tibet lies in the southwest of China and in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an average altitude of above 4,000 meters. Everest Peak, the highest peak in the whole world, which is as high as 8,846.27 meters above sea level, is here in the Himalayas. The Olympic Flame reached the top of Everest Peak for the first time in 2008. Tibet is also encompassed by some of the world's highest mountains. The Himalayas to the south, the Karakoram to the west, and the Kunlun to the north are the dream lands of all adventurers and mountaineers. Each year, thousands of adventurers and mountaineers come to Tibet to challenge both nature and themselves.

Tibet borders Xinjiang, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan internally while India, Burma, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal meet its external borders. Covering a massive 1,220,000 square kilometers (470,920 square miles), which accounts for 12.8% of China, Tibet can be divided into three parts: The west, the south and the east.

The west part, known as the North-Tibet Plateau, takes up 2/3 of the total area of Tibet. Ngari, is a vast barren plateau and renowned as the Roof of Tibet. As the place where the Holy Lake (Lake Manasarova) joins the Sacred Mountain (Mt.Kailash), Ngari is a holy pilgrimage destination of both Tibetans and Hindus, as well as a popular challenge to trekkers. As the climate is so inclement few people live in this region. Therefore, Ngari is also the home of wild yak, Tibetan antelope, wild donkey, and many other rare wild animals.

The south part of Tibet consists of valleys and lies between Kangdese Mountains and Himalayas. Southwestern Tibet has been a popular destination for mountaineers. Mt.Everest towers over the region. Besides, more than 40 snow capped peaks are open to mountain climbing enthusiasts. Southern Tibet also offers primeval forests, running waters, and a relatively mild climate. Yarlong Tsangpo Canyon, the largest canyon in the world, is the home of rare plants and animals, and remains unknown to anyone other than the local people.

The east part is mainly made up of canyons and is marked by a gradual decline in altitude intercepted by small ranges called Henduan Ranges. The world's lowest valley, the Grand Yarlun-tzanpo River Valley lies in east Tibet.

The vast land is also the cradle of several great rivers such as the Yangtze River, the Yellow River,the Nu River (Salween), the Lancang River (Mekong), the Yarlong Tsangpo(Brahmaputra), the Indus, and the Ganges. Tibet also offers awe-inspiring scenery of beautiful lakes and valleys. Over 1,500 lakes including Heavenly Lake Namtso and the holy Lake Manasarova make Tibet the plateau with largest amount of lakes. Without irrigation and nurturance of these rivers and lakes, the surrounding lands may not flourish.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Series of Mountain (9): Travel to Mount Wuyi

Welcome to Wuyi Mountains! located at the northern border of Fujian province with Jiangxi province, China. Described as "fairyland on earth", offering exquisite mountains, winding water and outstanding scenery. It’s a place featured with typical red rock formation.

The key scenic area of Wuyi Mountains covers 70 km2, boasting of 36 peaks, 72 caves, 99 rocks and 108 scenic spots as well. The magnificent and exquisite mountains and waters are the real delight. The whole area can be subdivided into many scenic spots.

The first spot you should not miss must be Nine Bend river, which is the most sophiscated charm of Wuyiu Mountains. It is winding its ways amidst the jungle of peaks and rocks. Take a drifting down the river, you can not only enjoy the beautiful scenery but the mysterious Boat-coffins and many ancient rock inscriptions along the banks. A raft trip down the Nine-bend River is the most popular activity followed by a visit to the "Thread of Sky" caves, where the narrowest walkway is only 30cm. Visitor access to the biodiversity protection area is controlled.

Have you ever got the feeling of traveling upon a sea of clouds high up the sky? No? Then you won’t miss Tianyou Peak , Peak of Sky Tour, Which is frequently shrouded in clouds and mist, it towers aloft over clusters of peaks. Ascending to its top, I’m sure you can get that feeling. The pavilion on the top, the highest among myriad peaks commands a panoramic view of Wuyishan encircled by well-known peaks and the Jiuqu Stream(Nine Bend river)on its three sides.

If you are interested in the tea culture of China, Wuyi Mountains offers a great opportunity, which abounding in teas growing on rocks with a bright color, strong scent, and pure taste, It’s called Wuyi Rock-essence Tea . Wuyi Rock-essence Tea has many types. Among them Dahongpao (Grand Red Robe)is the most famous and precious.

Other famous attractions include: Peach Blossom Cave, Tiger Roaring Peak, Tianxin Rock, Water Curtain Cave, Lianhua Peak, YulinTing Kiln Site.

In addition, The Wuyi Mountains is the largest and most representative example of Chinese subtropical forests and South Chinese rainforests' biodiversity. Its ecology has survived from before the Ice Age around 3 million years ago. In 1999, Mount Wuyi entered UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, both natural and cultural. It is the most outstanding biodiversity conservation zone of Southeast China.

If you love nature, landscapes, and biodiversity, take a travel to Wuyi Mountains. It won’t disappointed you in any terms.

travel to Beijing: You will never get hungry in Beijing

You will never get hungry in Beijing.

While in Beijing, historical and cultural legacies come to mind more quickly than any of its dishes. However, as the capital of China for centuries, Beijing has absorbed the culinary traditions of provinces around the country. Today, also as a large modern city, you can find almost anything you want to eat in Beijing, both Chinese and western. With a thriving international food scene, globally famous dishes, and a legacy of royally sanctioned cuisine, it surely won’t disappoint anyone either.

When talking about eating in Beijing, it’s uncompleted without mentioning Beijing roast duck (Originally prepared for a Yuan Dynasty emperor). It really belongs to a famous Beijing specialty, few visitors leave Beijing without trying it. Beijing duck is served with thin pancakes, plum sauce,and slivers of scallions and cucumbers. You dip the duck in the sauce and roll it up in the pancake with a few slivers of scallions and/or cucumbers. The end result is a mouthwatering combination of the cool crunchiness of the cucumber, the sharpness of the scallions, and the rich flavors of the duck. Your best bet is to try one of the centuries-old institutions specializing in the dish, such as Quanjude, Bianyifang, Guolin Home-style Restaurant and Dadong Duck Restaurant, which are nationally renowned.

Monday, December 15, 2008

travel to Beijing: Flag-raising Ceremony at TianAnMen Square

Everyday, a grand ceremony called Flag-raising Ceremony in Beijing's Tiananmen Square will attract many people. Believe it or not, going to Beijing and watching the national Flag-raising Ceremony is a dream to many people in China, especially to those who are poor and live far away from Beijing. What’s the charm of Flag-raising Ceremony?

The national flag was first raised over Tian'anmen Square in 1949, marking the birth of New China. And it has been repeated every day since then. In the morning, Chinese military honor guards march with perfect rhythm and synchronicity to raise the national flag. The ceremony begins at different time each day but precisely at sunrise and last exactly 127 seconds. And it is accompanied with a military band on the first day of every month.

While standing at the square, watching the national flag going up the pole slowly, listening to the national anthem, a feeling of patriotism grows inside of every Chinese people. That’s so impressive that somebody even cries. Although the flag has meant different things to different people, we love our great country and get power from the ceremony. I think that’s why it attracts so many people.

If you want to see the ceremony, then get up very early and arrive at the Square before sunrise. Only by doing so can you see the ceremony clearly as there are crowds of people attending the ceremony every day, especially during these important days and festivals, such as on May 1st (Internationa l Labor day),on Oct 1st (National day), every New year, and China 's New Year as well.

After the ceremony, tourists can also take a visit to Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People's Heroes, Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, they are just on the Tian'anmen Square.

travel to Beijing: the Temple of Heaven

Today, we will explore another worthwhile visiting place in Beijing, --- the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan in Chinese). It is a comprehensive expression of the unique construction techniques from Ming and Qing Dynasties, also the world's largest architectural complex for worship heaven. Along with the Summer Palace, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.in 1998.

Built magnificent and gloriously in 1420 A.D, with an solemn and respectful environment, the Temple served as an exclusive altar for Chinese rulers during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Offering sacrifices was a serious task! The ancient Chinese believed that the entire empire relied on the emperor praying for good fortune and abundant harvests from Heaven. Thus the emperors had quite a responsibility! There were specific rites of worship in ancient times, especially during the Ming and Qing dynasties when elaborate ceremonies were held.

It’s interesting when we research the shape and structure of the Temple buildings. With an area of about 2,700,000 square meters, it’s much bigger than the Forbidden City. As Chinese emperors called themselves 'The Son of Heaven', they dared not to build their own dwelling, 'Forbidden City' bigger than a dwelling for Heaven. On the other hand, the buildings reflect an ancient Chinese thought of 'The heaven is round and the earth is square'. Thus, the Northern part of the park is a semicircular shape symbolizing the heavens and the south a square symbolizing the earth. Meanwhile the northern part is higher than the southern part.

While here, tourist can enjoy both the most important constructions, others of historic interest and scenic beauty. The whole compound is enclosed by two walls, dividing the whole Temple into inner and outer areas. The outer area is characterized by suburban scenery, while the inner part is used for sacrifices with the main structures(such as the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, the Circular Mound Altar, Imperial Heaven, The Imperial Vault of Heaven, Heaven Kitchen, Long Corridor and so on).

But the Temple of Heaven is not just a solemn and glorious architectures, there are many funny phenomenons. Try the four wonderful sounds!

1. The echo from the Echo Wall – This famous wall encloses the Imperial Vault of Heaven with a perimeter of 193 meters. One person's mere whisper at any point close to the wall can be heard clearly on the other side if you draw your ear close to the wall, it is so clear that it is like talking on the phone. Isn't it interesting? This is possible because the wall is round and hermetically constructed with smooth, solid bricks, so the sound wave can transmit to the other side via the extremely smooth inner circle. The phenomenon utilizes the theory of sound wave.

2. The echo from the Three Echo Stones – It’s outside of the gate of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. If you speak facing the Vault while standing on the first stone, you will hear one echo; standing on the second and then the third stone, you will hear two and three echoes respectively. Why? This is because the distances that the sound wave reflected from the Echo wall to the stone are different, the number of echo is also different. Take a guess which flagstone is at the center of the Echo Wall's? The third one. The echo actually gets repeated more than 3 times, it's just the sound is too weak to be heard after the 4th echo.

3. The sound of the Dialogue Stone - If you speak while standing on the 18th stone in front of The Imperial Vault of Heaven, the sound can clearly pass to the northeast corner of the north side hall and the northwest of the west side hall that are both 36 meters away.

4. The hollow of the Heaven's Center Stone - There is a stone plate in the center of the Circular Mound Altar called the Heaven's Center Stone. Shouting aloud standing above, you will hear the reverberation of the echo. This is due to the refraction of the sound.

travel to Beijing: the Summer Palace

Located in northwest suburban Beijing, the Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan in Chinese) is ranked amongst the most noted and classical imperial gardens of the world. Ingeniously conceived and exquisitely constructed, it is a collection of all the masterpieces in the art of Chinese garden-building and is known as the “Museum of Imperial Gardens”, using to be a luxurious royal garden providing royal families with rest and entertainment. In 1998, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

The Summer Palace has a tough history, suffering great disaster for twice. Originally named the Garden of Clear Ripples, it was first constructed in 1750 (during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in Qing Dynasty). In 1860 the garden was burned down by Anglo-French allied forces. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). Therefore it became the living place of The Empress Dowager Cixi in her later years, dealing with state affairs and entertaining. In 1900, it suffered again, being ransacked by the Eight-Power Allied Forces. After the success of the 1911 Revolution, it was opened to the public.

In the Summer Palace, tourists can not only enjoy the grandeur of an imperial garden, but also the beauty of nature. Occupying an area of 304 hectares, the Summer Palace integrates the landscape, architecture and plants into a whole! Lakes and hills are dotted with palaces, temples and garden structures. The two main elements of the garden would be the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. Take your time to enjoy the amazing scenery here, I swear you don’t want to miss any detail.