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The Tea Horse Road Trek

A big welcome to all.
This site has been constructed to provide a forum by which to communicate on the upcoming "Tea Horse Road Trek". From May of 06 until late autumn myself and Khampa Caravan will be on the road following this ancient trade route which curves through the Himalayas. A voyage of 2350 kms through the Himalayas which have enthralled and beckoned me back time and again. With the passion and local knowledge of Khampa Caravan we have secured interviews with Khampa traders along the route, and no history of the "Tea Horse Road" could be complete without talking of the Khampas who lived, worked and loved along the road.

Without Khampa Caravan's participation this project could not move forward. I have attached their website and I encourage you to take a look as it provides invaluable information on the people and history along the route.



Penguin books has courageously acquired World Rights to the book which will (mountains willing) come out in autumn 2007.

I will try to stay in touch with and keep abreast of all who write in. Be patient! The mountains dictate the whats, whens, hows, and ifs. Enjoy!!

Latest Diary Entries

Sunday, 03 December 2006

Location: Tibet

So it comes down to this...the last few days before heading back to the other cold land of Canada.

Wrapping everything up at 4000 + metres under glacial blue skies, with a few last interviews to make sure that I have information correct.

Snow is falling in the Himalayas and the nightime temperatures are numbing. There is an addiction to this place though...uncompromising natural elements and uncompromising people...how refreshing!!!!!

It is beautiful in a harsh and pure way. Clear and surrounded by those ever inspiring mountains this area at the border region of Sichuan and Tibet seems a quietly majestic place to 'end' this journey.

These interviews with the elders have been the true treat of this voyage. It might seem to some to be slightly boring sitting for hours while these "people of the mountains" tell their tales, but in many ways although the journey itself and the magnificent landscape has thrilled, it has been the words of these 'ancients' which has given blood, colour and life to the expedition.

Their words echo and bounce around in my mind without fail every day and now the responsibility is to give as true an account of their journeys as possible....of course with some of my own experiences intertwined. It is in fact time to relive this almost eight month journey by way of memory, written word and photographs.

Back in Canada the 10th.

-thanks to everyone who chose to journey along with me on this voyage and a hope that in some small way it has inspired ... it has for me beyond any words I can write.


Jeff

Thursday, 09 November 2006

Location: Kathmandu

All,
This entry is more of about the adventure of 'city life'.
After leaving Lhasa, Yeshi and I made our way slowly south and west through the old trading towns of Gyantse and Shigatse through huge valleys and across rivers. This portion we did in an old 4x4 jeep going up and cresting down mountains.

We stopped in a tiny town near the Bhutanese, Nepal, Tibet border to interview a crusty old man who had witnessed the caravans coming into his town years before. We slurped the customary Tibetan butter tea which was stunningly potent due to the fact that because of poverty, the locals often use ''goat"s milk" instead of Yak butter...cheaper.

He told us that mule caravans stopped in the village while yak caravans stayed in the higher ground (4600 metres and higher), because of grazing and time. For hours he spoke of the importance of the animal's health, how entire caravans thrived or failed based on how well they were handled and cared for.

This segment of the route is somewhat different in that the main articles of trade carried were wool and tea. these articles made their way into northern India to the old trading towns of Gangtok and Kalimpong. High altitude deserts around the areas of Tingri and Nyalam...stunning emptiness. Mount Everest was poking its head through the clouds and whispering to me....mountains do this to me often.

Due to a 'sensitive' border area along the Sikkim - Tibet - Yadong area we were unable to cross here... we made our way overland to Kathmandu where we patiently!?!?! wait for our Indian visas to these areas (at the time of this writing we are still waiting).

Kathmandu is gently chaotic with none of the edge of huge Indian towns. Nepalese are a little more subdued. On the news front yesterday it was announced that the Maoists here have agreed to voluntarily hand in their arms and seek a 'peaceful' resolution....they want an increased number of seats in the House of Representatives in the Nepalese Parliament. Poeple here seem pleased but suspicious of all the forces involved which include government and the rebel forces.

Warm weather, smog, smells running rampant and a stunning aray of cultures. Tibetans, mountain tribes, Hindis, Sherpas have all blended. Beauty here is often breathtaking.

The ability to bargain well here is an art form. If you cannot, not only do you pay more than you should, your lack of skill is viewed
as a 'shortcoming'. Locals 'wag' their head in a wonderfully subtle way when they agree, BUT....they have a similar 'wag' when they are not satisfied, so careful attention must be paid to what kind of wag is being displayed. Total chaos can ensue if there is a 'misread' of what sign is which.

Yeshi is a master of dealing with this. Having grown up in Nepal, he speaks the language and understands the little signs and signals.

We have also been interviewing many old Tibetans (many escaped here during the Cultural Revolution) who have voyaged along the Tea Horse Road. Some incredible stories that will be in the book...mind numbing how casual they are about such determined and arduous journeys.

Last evening we had dinner with a high Lama in his little apartment. After a simple dinner prepared by his niece he spoke at length about his life, his travels along the route and the state of the world. Hard of hearing and refusing to wear a hearing aid our questions and conversations were sometimes hysterical. He often would not hear the question properly, thereby answering a question that he thought we asked but didn't... cute and a little sad. His eyes, however would sparkle when speaking of the past. He told us of how it was like 'unburdening his heart', being able to speak of all of these things kept inside for so long.


We have more interviews scheduled (I will never tire of these as they feed, inspire and humble everytime) and Yeshi and I will most likely head to Sikkim (look on your maps) for the last of our journey on the 13th or 14th of November. Hard to fathom that this journey is winding down...

I'm sure we will have a couple more entries before I am in Canada.

"Never doubt that passion and perserverence are keys to this life"....this was told to me by an 86 year old former muleteer and rings in my ears everyday of this trip.

jeffers.

Monday, 23 October 2006

Location: China

All,
Just a little blurb here.

We've finished the Sichuan to Tibetan borderlands Tea Horse Road section. A massive education in all things tea to add to our constantly growing knowledge bank pertaining to TEA.

Officially there are two main routes and sources of tea into Tibet in exchange for horses. One is the Yunnan - Tibet route and the other is called the southern Sichuan - Tibet route.

We slurped yet more tea in the warm misty mountains around Yaan in Sichuan making our way by jeep towards Tibet. On the way we encountered glorious white snow coming down in sheets, but melting away under a high and powerful sun.

We were educated in how Yaan tea differed from the Yunnan tea and how tea culture has created a cult like following of the various serving methods.

It always pleases me to get into the 'higher lands' where winds and the elements rule...the snow always makes me nostalgic but returning again and again to these regions gives joy in simple doses.

Once again we marvel at the route that the caravans took through rock, wind and floods.

I have to save the 'people shots' for the book.

Our last section begins in earnest in a week where we commence the final journey from Lhasa into Nepal and northern India, and we will wrap at the end of November, and then it is back to Canadian snow sometime at the beginning of December.

Make your time precious and live it!!! I am constantly reminded to do this by these old men who made this incredible journey. Their passion and vitality inspire hugely.

this might be the last entry for the remainder of the trip...and then its time for the book

hugs and peace to all

Saturday, 30 September 2006

Location: China


All,
Back from our venture south into the heat, mist, and world that is occupied by tea. Tea growth, picking, harvesting, producing and transporting all rule here. Xishuanbanna the prefecture is home to 13 officially recognized minority groups and each has played some role in the tea empire.

The heat wiped us out. Dakpa and I were joined by Mr. Zhen a cameraman and expert in indigenous tea culture. He is from the Yi minority group and getting an indigenous perspective is vital as these tribes were in fact the first to harvest tea and they have very different perspectives on the tea trade and serving styles. His rampant energy and ferocious passion had us drinking, smelling, picking, eating tea everyday at all hours. A huge thank you to him.

Trekking to remote bridges and villages we were able to see first hand the old stone routes which still bear the scars of horse and mule hooves from centuries ago.

We visited mist shrouded hills where ancient forests of centuries old tea trees live. Bent over and thirty or forty feet tall, their tender leaves give off a sweet fragrance in the wet air. Tea from these trees is extremely expensive and rare. The Hani, Wa and Lahu tribes all occupy and grow tea in this region.

The south provided insight into the original starting points of the Tea Horse Road. Places like Menghai, Menglian, Yiwu, Nanoshan were all tea areas in which the leaves were collected and then transported to Simao and eventually Puer (the main market area from which the caravans began). Puer Tea's name comes from Puer town which was the central point of distribution to sellers, buyers and traders. The tea then made its way north.

I on my own visited towns like Nanjie and Weishan which were important resting grounds for the caravans.

On to Dali I travelled where the incomparable Neddy Luo entertained and talked into the wee hours about tea history, and the caravan routes. I trekked around the important areas and every free moment I had spent in his tea shop sucking back cups of old tea, green tea and getting explanations of the benefits, growth periods, fermentation processes etc. Tea is a world of happily addicted fans with an incredible history. I joyously count myself one of this bunch.

Apologies once again for only half of the photos getting through...it is the computer and not "planetranger".

Osman...of course I remember you and yes I will be bringing back tea for all to try. No to your question of being lonely or not...too much to see, do and drink here. Senses are getting filled with new and old information alike.

I have approximately two months left to go....the "Sichuan - Tibet Road" - which is the second primary Tea Horse Road into Tibet and India and then the final segment travelling from Lhasa into Nepal and India.

More photos in a couple of days.

Jeffers.

Monday, 11 September 2006

Location: Dali, China


Slurping and gently making our way into southern Yunnan in amidst those green leaves that provide so much contentment - TEA.
A hotbed of minority culture, the gentle Bai people and and their history inhabit this area.
Small and delicate they are disciplined agricultural people with stunning ornaments hanging from their heads.

Finding out more about how the tea here (Xiaguan Puer) differs from that further south....takes longer to ferment because of the cooler temperatures so it has less 'strong' smell and flavours.

Last night a tea professor I had met earlier, tracked me down to my hotel room and burst in delighted he had found me...he is passion on legs about anything to do with tea and he is a veritable knowledge bank of information on anything tea related.

Dali is the Southeastern most edge of the Trans Himalayan plateau and it is with some reluctance that we leave our high mountain sanctuary which has taken such good care of us for the past months...good news is that in another month I will be nestled back in her arms.

So much conflicting information on where the actual Yunnan Tea Horse Road is. There are many old caravan routes, postal routes, immigrant corridors, but only ONE Tea Horse Route....some scholars have clarified where the exact route lies.

This project is dependant upon scholars, elders, legend, diligence and patience in no particular order, and up until now all has worked out.

From here we head deeper south to near the Laos/Yunnan border regions where the heart of the tea growing region exists. Traditionally Bai people grew and produced Puer tea for the purpose of transportation further north and into Tibet.

Later we head to Sichuan for the second major tributary of the Tea Horse Route, the aptly named "Sichuan Tibet Tea Horse Route". Here they transported Ya'an tea into Tibet although from what we've been told, Tibetans loved the Puer from Yunnan far more than the "shallow" flavoured Ya'an from (yes you guessed it) Ya'an.

The last and final segment will be a half jeep/half trek from Lhasa to Nepal and into northern India where we will meet with some of the oldest traders left in Kalimpong.

All is well and I suppose tea has taken over from the mountains as our guardian.

Congrats to Laura and Carsten's big W Day.

Jeffers

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Location: China


Resting my buns and the rest of my being...just back from time with mushroom pickers - way up in the mountains, where these earthy wonderful delicacies provide a livelyhood for many of the poor mountain villages.

These mushrooms were also essential for the villagers to trade for tea and other items that the traders brought from further west in India and Nepal along the Tea Horse Road.

The damp forests above 3500 metres provide a sanctuary for these delights, and the people who pick them are stories in themselves, spending days on steep wet slopes prodding through the earth with carved sticks. The mountains are dizzying even for me, but these pickers tread easily in shoes that cost a mere 20 Yuan ($3.00 Cdn). They carry a satchel, with some tea and "Abee" (Yak Cheese) and that's it.

There is a "mushroom mafia" that controls the prices of various mushrooms per kilo. Many locals complain that the prices have dipped consistantly over the last five years and that now it is very difficult to make a living by just picking mushrooms.

I stayed in a small village called Ja Bay in a hot little valley with a family of nine people. Three husbands to one wife (yes this still exists in Tibetan regions and in India), one grandmother with two husbands, along with two sisters. Everyday was a story in itself with the various personalities doing battle, loving eachother, and having the 'odd' drink of Arra (the local barley wine which I've written of before). The three husbands were brothers and it is not uncommon to find households with similar familial situaltions in certain regions. I know the girl who is the daughter of this 'four person marriage' and she says that she and her siblings all know who their 'fathers' are. The wife/mother has her favourite 'husband' and everyone seems fine with this arrangement.

The grandmother and her two husbands are the real treats of the household. All of them sit with a stiff drink every evening, sitting silent until the wine kicks in and then they become animated. The grandmother clearly has her favourite husband and she treats him with deference and the other she dominates and screams at at will. The husband who is dominant, is a short powerful man with a drinking problem. The drink hasn't slowed his 76 year old body down at all...up at 5am, into the mountains to collect juniper (sacred and burned every morning - called Duba) and back by 7:30 for a breakfast.
The grandmother herself is a real piece of work. About 6 ft she towers above her two men and her voice is deep and that of an Alpha female...not to be messed with.
The lesser of the three forces is a sad looking man whose eyes speak of his years of being dominated. His laugh though is a treat...and his is a heart of genuine gold...he looks at his wife with soft and gentle love.

A scenario that is played out every night is that of the dominant grandfather wanting to argue with and eventually dominate the grandmother, who mutters threats into her cup and then in turn takes out her frustration on the less forceful of her husbands who then in turn sips a little more Arra and accepts what has become a daily ritual which everyone accepts.

Being part of this was a genuine treat and all the family members were incredibly real and warm. One of the real joys of being amongst these simple, hard people is the lack of any pretention whatsoever...no formality, no titles, nothing that was unecessary...the bare essentials, a little whiskey and eachother.

Dakpa and I are in the final stages of organizing the "Tea section" in Southern Yunnan.

Until the next dispatch I wish all, safe and passionate wanderings.

Jeff


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Recent Messages

From Osman from Maple Rid
Hi Jeff,

Its been a long time since I send you messages and I also started a new journey after you left and went to a school called Maple Ridge right now I am trying to get used to locker because now I am in grade 7 .Sorry for not sending you any messages but right now I will try to send more messages.My Question today is are you still considering to go to Mt.Kilmanjaro and how many languages do you now.

p.s Are you still into yak milk and tea.I hope you the best and I am hoping that maybe in the future that you can come to Maple Ridge and talk about the adventure and again if you want to know where is Maple Ridge it is in Orleans and the street is 1000 valin if it is too much trouble.

Sincerly Osman
Response: Osman,
No need to apologize...I haven't checked this site for months. No plans for me visiting Kilimanjaro...I will stay in the Himalayas and begin plans for a new project. Congratulations on your formal entry into Grade 7 with all of the challenges and wonders of another year done. I am still in love with Yak milk and Butter tea. The temperature here has dropped and we now find ourselves in a icy wonderland of mountains and late risings from bed. I will stay in touch Osman...do well, try hard and always strive to go forward in life.
From Saad-Manor Park
Hi Jeff

Its good to hear you are all right. I am very interested in what you are doing.I would like to ask you a few questions about you and the Tea Horse Road Trek.Is it hard to communicate with the town people of china and other places or do you have a translater.Have you found anything interesting, if you did what was it.In one blog you said somthing about a library and you said you found a book about the tea horse road trek.was it in english or did you have a friend to translate. do you have to wear oxygen maskes becuase of air alltitude? Did'nt the prinnces have workers to trade the tea or one of her 3 husbands do it for her?How long is the tea horse trek?
are you scared of falling when you climb the mountains

p.s I hope you the best.please right back if you can.Sorry for
asking so much questions you dont have to answer them all in one blog

Sincerly Saad
Response: Hello Saad,
In China most of the time I can get along in my Mandarin, although in Sichuan their dialect is difficult to understand. I've been told by other Chinese that they have the same difficulties understanding. In the Tibetan regions I have a translator to ensure that if I don't understand something they will help. There is a saying in Yunnan that every 2.5 kms the language changes, because of all of the minorities and different Tibetan dialects. The book you are talking about is in Chinese....and yes I need assistance for that. No oxygen masks of any kind. We wanted to do the route as it was done by the old traders - with a minimum of gear. Princess Wenchang brought tea into Tibet as part of her dowry and her caravan was many kilometres long. Many of her sevants took care of the tea which was tied onto the backs of mules. She married the Tibetan king Songzen Gambo and he had three wives. The Sichuan Tibet tea horse road is almost 2400 kms but to date we have travelled almost 10,000 kms (not all of it trekking). Sometimes we have to find a small town to interview an old trader and often we have to backtrack by jeep to make sure information is correct. When I am in the mountains there is the odd time fear creeps in, but generally I don't worry about falling...I always think to myself that if I do fall in the mountains there is no more beautiful or peaceful place to go.
Don't ever apologize for asking questions...that is how we learn...all of us.

thanks for writing Saad.
Jeff
From Ms.Sercerchi's class
Hi Jeff!

Yes, it has been awhile! I'm pleased to see that you are doing well! I'm now teaching a grade 5 class. They did not attend your talk last year, yet we have read your entire blog, and hope you will keep in touch with us, and perhaps visit us when you return! I have many siblings of students who corresponded with you last year. We'd like to ask you some questions! Katya would like to know how you can "eat tea"? Saad ( Alaa's brother ) wants to know if the Yak milk tastes the same as cow milk? Javis would like to know if it is cold up in the mountains? Aaron would like to know where you are right now? Faduma (Osman's sister) wants to know if you have discovered anything about The Princess who originally made the trek? Fahma wants to know if you are afraid of dying? Trevor wants to know if you are having fun? Batoul wants to know if you are enjoying your recent discoveries? Josh S.F. want's to know if you ever catch and cook your own food while you are in the mountains? As a class, we would love to be pen pals for the school of children that you had spoken of in one of your entries. Let us know if this is still an option. We hope all is well on your end, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Ms. Sercerchi's class
Response: Love the questions.
As for eating tea. You can (and I have) eaten dried tea leaves during the trek portions. They give you a stimulant effect just by being in your mouth as well as providing vitamins and keeping the blood circulating. The Tibetans often blend their thick butter tea with ground barley (Tsamba) and use their fingers to stir the mixture. When it thickens then they literally 'eat' the concoction (and once again yes I have partaken of this gooey mixture). It is great to fill the stomach and provide energy in the mountains. Yak milk from the "dri" or female is thicker and richer in taste than any cow milk. As the yak graze at high altitudes with little or no pollution and no pesticides everything is "pure". The meat, the milk, the yak hair...everything. In the mountains the temperatures drop to below zero and as you can see from the photos snow is in abundance (which just makes everything stunning). I am back in Zhongdian (check your maps) in northern Yunnan. This is a base for me. After every segment I return, check gear and reconfirm information and revisit areas if something is unclear. The Princess and her caravan only transported the tea. She didn't actually have anything to do with the processing or picking. I can tell you that the tea was loose leaf green tea that fermented on its journey getting more pungent and stronger. The Tibetans enjoyed the strong fermented taste and that is what led to the deliberate fermenting of green tea to creat "Puer" wich is still to this day the favoured tea in Tibet. Fermenting is another word for ageing or rotting. The process in tea creates a strong taste and gives the tea medicinal properties including breaking down fat in the body. This was great because of the Tibetans diet that was high in rich yak butter and meats. Dying doesn't enter into the mind very often and as I said in a previous message, there aren't too many places more tranquil and beautiful to go...if it was to happen. I am totally content, especially when we interview the old traders. Their humour and passion give us so much energy of our own. The trekking we do and discovering, and struggling is all fun as well as it pushes the senses to new levels and educates constantly. Yes, the recent discoveries make the brain work every night as I try to digest everything that I've seen, heard, and tasted. It provides new perspectives on viewing culture and the world. One is never too old to learn and marvel at the world. The last question about food: Yes we often pick (advised by locals of course) mushrooms, and vegetation for our meals. Their have been times when we fished (not very well), but we never hunt. We will often approach nomads for dried Yak meat, Yak cheese (Abee) and other basic supplies. We offer money which is mostly refused. They tell us that in the old days pilgrims or traders were always welcome to sleep, eat or drink, provided they could give some news of the outside world.
Yes the school is still an option. I am helping to sponsor a nomadic child at the school.
I will send the info on my return here at the end of November.
From osman
Dear,jeff

do you still eat that yak
milk ?and whats the difference between canadian
money and yen money?
what do like about tibet?what do you give to pack mule when there hungry?
sincerly,
osman
ps:say hi to youre friends and
bring youre friends with you
when come.bye!!!!
Response: Osman,
I commend your persistence in writing and keep the questions coming. I have become a butter tea and yak milk addict. Right now, ( and I might be off by a few ) one Canadian dollar gets you about 7.6 RMB. Tibet and its mountains give me a peace that I don't find anywhere else. The people are straightforward and while there are always exceptions, the people are very giving without being pretentious. Although at present we are not using mules, we would give them some Tsampa (barley with butter in a ball), and other than that they will eat almost anything. I will try and bring some friends home, but I suspect that I will return here.
best to you Osman
From ReBecca- Manor Park
Dear Jeff,

I hope things are going well! :)

Send my regards to your friends as well. I enjoy reading your blog, and I find it very interesting. What is the highest point you`ll be reaching on this trek? I bet its pretty high. I hope you get this, but I do realize that your satilite and radio technology may not be working well where you are, so thats fine. How many weeks have you been on this trek? I hope your safe and warm. How do the people in the villages react to your technology, such as the computer? I was reading with the class and noticed that they seemed surprised, but I like knowing kind of what happened. I hope you can come and talk to Manor Park students again, about how the trek was before the year after next, as I`ll be in a different school and I would love to hear from you in person on how the trek was. I send you and your friends my regards, and give your favourite mule a scratch behind the ears if possible. Bye!

Sincerly,
ReBecca

<(')
( )
-"-"-

From Ms.Sercerchi's class
Hi Jeff!

It's good to hear from you. We are happy to hear that you are well... we are saddened to hear about others who have not fared as well. Give them our best if you can. We will think of you all and send you "safe energy". Alaa wonders how the frostbite was cured... was it done via traditional methods? Osman wants to know if the Yak milk tastes "gross"? Serena wants to know what the cream and butter tastes like? Vanessa wonders why Juniper oil is good for a safe trip? Brina wants to know what the catterpiller fungus is used for? Alaa wonders how the people in the small villages respond to your technology (computer...) Salma wonders about the current temperature? We did send you a message about 3 weeks ago... on this site... did you get it? Take care, and we look forward to hearing from you and your friends soon!
Sincerely, Ms. Sercerchi's class
From serena wen Manor Par
Dear Jeff,
my mom says that tea is at its best when it is fresh not roted. Is that ture or is it best when it is fresh too or is both right? Any way what kinds of food did you order? If you have time (after the travel) why dont you try one of the fancy chinesse restrant the food there is exelent and well i wont runin the supriese. What is it like to meet a chef that is like a celebrity or eat the food made by him? Hope you have a great trip and none of the "its" die.
from serena
p.s Have you tasted the chestnuts?
Response: Big thanks for writing Serena. The food here is good and the curry is lethal and hot. I've been told that the Spring and Winter teas are best, greens cannot be aged too long, Oolongs that are roasted can be saved for a long period, and that Puer is best when it is old - "Lau Cha". Yes I have heard and read much about the Silk Road but thanks for sending your suggestions. Study hard Serena.
From Manor Park - ms. Ser
Hi Jeff,
We have enjoyed reading your messeages, and are pleased to see that you are doing well. We are excited for you!!! :) Serena wonders how the food is treating you? Osman asks; How was your flight to Kunming? Alaa wonders if you can survive on tea alone, as you had mentioned that it was very nutricious. Salma wants to know if you learned anything new from librarian's at the university? Hanan wonders if you have learned more languages? Austin wants to know if you have made new friends along the way? Omar wonders if you have taken any more off centre pictures of these new friends.... :)? Mariam wants to know HOW MANY pictures you have taken so far...? Ms. Sercerchi is thinking that you have taken MANY pictures!!! We look forward to seeing more pictures, and hearing back from you!!!! We wish you well!
Sincerely,
Ms. Sercerchi's class

Response: I'll try and answer in quick order. The food is "gorgeous" ...lots of greens - I missed the food when I was in Canada...an addict. Not gaining any weight though. My flight to Kunming was bumpy and delayed for an hour and a half due to bad weather. It is grey and murky here, but the air is clear and cold and feels amazing in the lungs...near two thousand metres. As to the question of tea...well though it feels like I do live on tea....I need the food I can chew on and luckily here there is lots of it. A lunch for three of us, and I mean a huge lunch in a very good restaurant came to about 12 dollars CDN.....I asked a waitress how much she made a month...about 400 Yuan a month...just over 50 CDN....but she is happy. What a novel thing!!

The librarian told me a lot of the actual trade of tea and how certain families acted as "mediators" in that they graded the teas according to where it was grown, who grew it, and what kind of reputation the grower has. Also of interest to me particularly was how very different the Lhasan Tibetan language is from the Khampa dialect spoken in the east of Tibet and Yunnan and Sichuan. As for languages...my mind is swimming with all of the new terms...and my sentence structure in Chinese is in need of repair. Made some new friends yes, but mainly revisiting old friends...one today in a tea shop. He almost broke my hand shaking it he was so surprised ...he thought I would never return....but I did !!!!

Pictures have been a problem,,,,a computer here managed to 'eat' my USB cable....be patient with me....Omar - clever aren't you with your "off centre" remark. My time has been mostly organizing and seeing people so I am not shooting as much....that comes soon in the mountains....I will upload when I get a replacement cord...not so easy here.

thanks for writing in....and BEHAVE!!!