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An update from Evaneos

Tagong and the horse festival - when time stands still...

Tagong was built around the very characteristic monastery of Lhagang, a lamasery which is a combination of Tibetan and Han styles. Miraculously, it escaped the Cultural Revolution. So you can admire the towers and a temple that are perfectly preserved. The towers make the space look very impressive.

I also love letting my eyes wander over the surrounding mountains as far as the gray shaded plains in the distance. 

Off to the horse festival in Tagong valley

The horse festival (Saima) takes place every year in a valley near Tagong. I followed the local inhabitants, who told me to start the journey by car, and then finish it on foot. The trail of people went up to a tiny village on the mountainside. The walk took a good hour before we got to the other side where the festival was taking place!

It was hard walking, but I thought it was really worth it. It was a little difficult to breathe but, no worries, that's normal! We were 4,000 meters above sea the air was a bit thin.

Once I got there I saw that some Tibetan nomads were already there. Dotted around the white tents, they were in traditional clothes and on horseback. There were also some yaks near them.

There was no fear that visitors weren't welcome. Nomads are used to seeing westerners. They are kindly and generous hosts, and it's up to you to accept their hospitality graciously. They really appreciate it when a visitor agrees to share a meal with them. Although there is the language barrier, you can't mistake the smiles of pleasure at meeting someone.

Crowds at the horse festival @flickr cc La Priz

Horse racing and wonder

The day's activities progressed and gradually people arrived. The horses were being readied. The big race would start in a few minutes! The riders went to find numbered wood pallets which they brought back to the center. Then I saw some magnificent horsemanship. I saw wonderful displays, gallops backwards and forwards picking up scarves and apples. Later we enjoyed the traditional singing and dancing. I had a good time watching the Tibetans enjoying their traditional culture.

Emilie Joulia
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