One of the things we did this summer was join our friends Connie, Ignas and their daughter Josien, whom we know from our shared days in Cambodia, on guided treks around mount Zhakra and across the Laghang grasslands. Our base was the still unfinished ecolodge of Angela and her husband Djarga (near Tagong). They organized the treks for us and made us part of their household for the days we spent with them. Josien’s very distinctive visual perspective on this utterly fascinating region is worth sharing.
The Chinese infrastructural development we saw was mindblowing, the numbers of local tourists visiting the ‘scenic spots’ of this minority area large (including substantial numbers of cyclists breathing diesel exhaust & dust on their way to Lhasa), the numbers of newly-build beautiful Tibetan houses, and temple development (especially in Gyergo) Vaticanesque. The motorbike has become a favorite means of transport for many nomads, not yet replacing horses, but used in similar ways, even to bring the herd of yaks in for milking.
The areas really away from it all are shrinking, but are stunning. Summer means a carpet of flowers everywhere. In a week we saw more wildlife than on any trek I’ve ever done in Nepal. Nomad life is as removed from modern city existence as it gets. For those who wonder: the trailrunning near the eco-lodge was fantastic, beautiful ridges up to 4300m, expansive views, great diversity.