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Himalaya

Day 72: Yushu

Qinghai Province, Tibet 
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Lady from the tent next to ours at the Yushu Horse Festival. She ran a small shop and showed a marked interest in our director's Cuban cigars. Probably quite rare on the Tibetan plateau.
Michael Palin - HimalayaTub-thumping commentaries in Tibetan and Chinese evoke the spirit of the Soviet era, an impression re-enforced by the arrival of massed formation tractors, motors rumbling, exhausts belching. People have only good feelings towards tractors. They are the one symbol of progress that everyone approves of and they receive by far the biggest round of applause.

By now quite a head of traffic has built up at one end of the ground, with the massed tractors finding themselves banked up against the massed trucks, who are waiting for the massed motorbikes to clear. The result is an almighty fug-filled jam, a sort of pageant of pollution.

Once cleared, a po-faced detachment of the PLA enter the arena, take up position by the ceremonial flagpole and present arms to the dignitaries in the stand. No spontaneous round of applause here.

Then, by turns, the show-ring fills up with horsemen wearing cowboy hats and jingling bells, sword-brandishing dancers in red lamp-shade hats, monks sounding long curved trumpets, children in matching blue and white track-suits and Tibetan dancers in traditional double length sleeves, which they whirl around like windmills to a tempo as jaunty as an Irish jig.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 72: Yushu
  • Country/sea: Tibet
  • Place: Yushu
  • Book page no: 171

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