There is so much behind this definition… always green hills of South-West China; Tibetan horses; tea plantations – green and pu’erh; war with hordes of Genghis Khan. Carriers and the ROAD ‘Chamagudao’, through wild forest and frozen mountains, through highlands at 5000 m high, ended in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet (3656m). Looking how China is today growing and getting modern, it is difficult to imagine that until 1949 Chinese carriers were risking their life to make the road and exchange the goods with Tibetans.
Shaxi was important place on the tea route.
From here most of the carriers started the way. Until today the city stays with its character, you can easily hear horse clatter at the cobblestones and on Friday’s market you can buy everything what you want from the villages and communities around. Shaxi is one of those rare places (we did not visit all China, but for sure 🙂 ) in China where nature and monuments can be admired being just by yourself. If you will come here you will not be able to continue your trip without staying here for few days. If you are sensitive to the charm of small streets, which structure the city without being a tourist attraction, you will fall in love with this city. Those once tired of carrying their backpack will feel here like at home.
Woman in the bookstore
It also happened to us. We hung around Shaxi for 4 days. Behind the main charming street you will find here a lot of small sideways, full of surprising places. Small coffee shops, restaurants and bookstores. We fell in love especially with the one owned by Mamman; in a typical wooden house. She welcomed us with a cup of herbal tea and homemade liqueurs. At the first floor of her bookstore and house, we sat down next to the wooden window ledge with a charming view on the rooftops and the old theatre. With a nice cup of Yunnan coffee, we could plan our next destination – Laos. Mamman (a woman from North China – border with Mongolia - that studied art in Shanghai) created the atmosphere of being at home, beautiful home of art, peace and love. We found there a place for work, laugh and talk. We spent that time with friends. Thank you Mamman, Niba and Sofia!
Woman in the mountains
Around Shaxi there are few things to do. We decided to go and look for the three hidden lakes, and we even found them. To reach them, we had to climb one of the mountains surrounding Shaxi. A long way up under a strong sun, but after that, it was nice 🙂 After almost 3 hours going up, it turned out that lakes were not our biggest surprise, but a WOMAN.
The meeting with her was so unexpected that in an atmosphere of complete surprise we could not take our eyes off her. Over one of the lakes there is a house (first surprise), one and only one and around nothing but forests, birds and lakes of course. It occured that in search of the last lake, we ran through the weeds and finally came back to the field adjacent to this house. Nobody around (we did not meet anyone throughout this trekking) one more time. We decided to shorten our way through the field of the farm yard from which we could easily take the way back to Shaxi. We looked around for somebody to make us more confident to do this short cut, but the emptiness remained unmoved by our research. Coming to the building in complete silence, a WOMAN appeared from nowhere.
A WOMAN dressed in the most traditional dress I have ever seen. Black dress embroidered in lot of colors. With a face burnt by the sun and so mysterious eyes that even now, when I’m writing it, it gives me the creeps. The depth of her eyes cannot be forgotten. I had the feeling, that my whole body was scanned in the blink of an eye and her face was unmoved. She didn’t even say a word to us but she took us very firmly to the road. Then she went back under a huge tree and sat down in the shadow without stopping to look at us. On the occasion of this meeting I managed to make the most beautiful picture - her portrait in my memory.
Mystery and beauty - so I will remember this moment.