Posted by: oliviapontet | September 11, 2012

Gansu, color land between Buddhism and Islam region

Gansu (甘肃,) is a province in northwestern China. Long narrow region, wedged between the Mongolian Plateau to the north and the foothills of the Tibetan plateau to the south, wedding part of the route of the ancient Silk Road, it is inhabited by about 26 million (in 2004) that a significant minority of Hui. The capital is Lanzhou, located in the southeast of the province. So much for wikipédiesques presentations!

This region is a cultural crossroads between Mongolia, Tibet and the road to the Silk Road.

Earth color? because the climate is so harsh that nothing grows on all the mountains I crossed. Earth color also because all the villages are made. The moment you arrive by plane we see the monotony of the landscape. The cross on foot or by bus for hours do not change this impression …

I could feel at least two of the cultural influences of the region.
We landed in Lanzhou and had to make a three-hour drive to reach Xiahe. For over an hour, the road was only mosques, scarves for women, and white caps for men, hallmarks of the Muslim Hui minority.
After a while, we pass a large portal of ten meters, and then radical change up in Tibet! No Mosque on the horizon, the panels are lined in English AND in Tibetan outfits are different (long sleeve coat over a meter), the narrow faces with high cheekbones and rosy cheeks.

It is in this mountainous region – which rises to 5,500 meters – that I see for the first time in my eyes Buddhist pilgrims prostrate themselves every two steps. Have you heard? they can not do flat belly, get up, take two steps, raise their arms to heaven, put on his stomach, etc. … This is the most extraordinary manifestation of faith that was given to me to see. And I saw some of these pilgrims to tens of kilometers of Xiahe, to the asphalt, and of course many others around the Labrang Monastery

After our famous “survival trip” and our visit to Xiahe, we’re back to Lanzhou. This city is stuck with mountains to north and south and is very wide from east to west. She gives me no great interest to a traveler, if not for its food: it is here that the famous are the “mian” these noodles Hui handmade and we in all cities in China. They are delicious here. Skewers and buns also regale me …

For those who pass, I recommend Tuiying Hotel (0931-8631999 – 226 Tianshui Nan Lu) very good quality / location / money, and I said that the airport is an hour’s drive from downtown.

What fascinated me about the roads and Gansu Lanzhou Hui (回族), an ethnic group in China which is one of the 56 national minorities. They are culturally similar to the Han Chinese but they practice Islam. There would be ten million in China.

Gansu province

Gansu province (Photo credit: Bernt Rostad)

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