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JiuZhaiGou  Day 3 (19th Sept)
   
  It started raining last night.

At 8am, we, all equipped with raincoats and umbrellas, continue from where we left off yesterday. We take the bus up the Arrow Bamboo HaiJi and plan to walk the remaining 7 miles of the right arm of the "Y".

 

Calm and mysterious. In the rain, HaiJis has a different mood.

I hear nothing, not even rain.

And the air smell even fresher.

Rain stops.

Looks good even above water.

A calm surface reveals more color.

There is only one kind of fish in JiuZhaiGou - the Highland Scaleless Fish (not official translation ) There are plenty of them in the Panda HaiJi.
It takes 4 times the effort and time to take a PIC in the rain. Me, Xing and Juan take turn holding umbrella for each other. And no surprise, productivity is lower than low.
 
  When we walk beyond the Arrow Bamboo HaiJi, we find that the road is closed for road construction. How come no one ever mentioned this to us in the past 2 days? But again, what the hack. It' rainy and there is no guard in sight.  

However, as we continue up, we see stones rolling down hill sides every 10 minutes. What if the mum and dad of the stones are waiting in line? A few workers also tell us that they are blasting stone up there even it's raining. The road has a deadline to make because it has to be reopen in the coming National Day Holiday (1st Oct.).

I am sure this is the place to say NO if Xing promises Juan a ring with a big STONE. So we turn back.

  
  Although I see slight signs of pollution, JiuZhaiGou is still a clean place. Watch these on a branch.
That is the kind of life you can find on a small section of a branch. It's as dense as Hong Kong's population.
  
  We are back to our inn near noon. When I think I can call it a bad day, a good day happens in another form. We turn to indoor activity - checking out the house of the Tibetan family that runs the inn.

ZhouMa is the daughter of the family. She is young and nice to chat with. And best of all, she allows me to take PIC inside and outside of the house. That's how cultural exchange starts.

 

This is the SW corner of the living room. TV, VCD, CD players, VCR, you name it. See the dragon pillar in the middle? Nice, isn't it?

The SE corner. How colorful. Pay attention to the stove as you will find out soon how important it is. 

The NE corner. In terms of taking PICs, this is a sensitive area - the shrine. Even before this trip, I know I shouldn't be taking PICs of the shrine. But ZhouMa is nice enough to look the other way. 
See the camera bags, tripods and backpacks? They belong to Kam and Xing. From the way we scatter our stuff across the sitting area, you can tell how homey we feel.

Remark: The lighting inside the house is dim - so as the other 2 Tibetan houses that I have visited. I use a flash in these PICs so that we can see all the colors.


All the paintings inside and outside of the house are hand painted. Imagine the kind of work that had been put into it.
These paintings are about 10 years old. Strange thing is that their color are still so vivid. Especially all the like-new gold color inside the living room. I suspect they used real gold in the process.  
 
  Inside the house, our social activity centers around the stove. We take PICs around it, boil tea with it, cook with it, sit around it and chat around it. It is the soul of the living room.
 

The stove is a piece of work. All handmade. Copper edged. This one has 2 levels so we can put our tea on the lower level to keep it warm while we chat. 

Don't think I turn the lights down to make the PICs more dramatic. That is exactly the kind of illumination they have in Tibetan houses. Mysterious, eh?

I don't take a lot of PICs of myself but again, this one is too good to miss. It's good that ZhouMa is not camera shy.
Maybe, just maybe, you want to turn up your monitor's brightness a little bit. I find that the PICs get a little darker after they are being shrunk.
 
  We PIC and chat away the whole afternoon. It's simply great, unexpectedly great.

When it's dinner time, Fa [Flower], the helper of the house, makes us ChiBa (not sure of pronunciation). It's the Tibetan version of mashed potatoes.


What kind of tool Fa uses for ChiBa? It's definitely not high tech but it's fun. It saves electricity too.

Then ChiBa is put into a soup with some veggie strips to cook. Cooked ChiBa is chewy - a texture not normally associated with mashed potatoes. It's taste is rather plain but when served with chilli paste (forget to PIC here, got one tomorrow), it's wonderful.
I put 3 spoonful (big Chinese soup spoon!) of chilli paste into this bowl. And I finish the last drop of chilli-saturated  soup despite 1) warning that my stomach will rebel, 2) my sweating forehead, 3) my runny nose. It's just too yummy to be given up.   
 
  Sweat dreams after a good day of cultural exchange.  
 

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