the screaming monster

A western breakfast can do a person good. No fried vegetables, no garlic, no UFO¡¯s (unidentified food objects) but just plain bread with a sunny side up egg on it! Mmmmmh. With renewed strength we head towards the grasslands, 14 km outside Xiahe. Some say it¡¯s spectacular, other say it¡¯s like the prairie in the film Dances with Wolves and others couldn¡¯t be bothered. We want to see it for ourselves.

We drive through the Tibetan part of Xiahe and enjoy the curious monks staring at Hippie. When we arrive at the grasslands, all we see is fake tents and it all looks like a deserted circus area. The rolling hills in the distance with yaks grazing beg for exploration on a horse. A young boy with a horse is waving at us and when we stop and get out of the car to ask about horseriding the boy passes us and starts scratching one of the stickers of the car. A quick reaction of Michel prevents him from doing damage to it. When he wants to do it again Michel has to hit him on the finger to stop him. Okay let¡¯s move and park Hippie secured from mister scratcher.

Nearby a carpark we find a woman with a horse. Jason explains we want three and within no-time we are on a horse. Michel only has experience with the one dollar electric Palomino horse at C&A but wants to have a go. But the owners want to stick with us. But 10 yuan can do miracles and of we go on our own.

Within 5 minutes we have lost Jason. He ran off with the horse and we wonder what happend. Michel quickly catches the drift and together we ride in joy. Ofcourse we don¡¯t just follow path and head onto the grasslands. Yes it feels like Dances with wolves. But a few minutes later the movie changes. We follow a path and suddenly this lady comes running from her house screaming like a pig. Apparently we rode onto private property and immediately we apologise for the mistake. We want to turn around but the screaming monster has other thoughts. She wants money! We apologise again but she doesn¡¯t want to listen. Then she grabs Elles her horse. This she shouldn¡¯t have done. The horse gets nervous. Michel quickly jumps of his horse to get rid of the lady and to save elles from falling of the horse. But the lady is stubborn and starts shouting even harder. Michel in his turn holds the horse and tries to rip the rope out the ladies hands. It¡¯s a horrible scene and we both feel bad. We¡¯re not going to pay because we made a mistake. The lovely trip is turning into a nightmare by now and it takes minutes and quite some convincing words to get the rope out of the screaming monsters hands. Then she runs of and we are worried she will unleash her wild barking dogs. We quickly take of. Well, Michel ends up on the arse of the horse instead of the sadle! Looking like circus clowns act, he rides of. Elles is laughing again by this time.

When we return Jason is still gone. When we arrive minutes later he explains he was chased by a kid who wanted money as well. Maybe the name should be changed into the horrible capitalistic ¡®I want your money¡¯ grasslands of Gansu!!

We are happy to arrive in lovely Xiahe again. We walk around and take dozens of pictures. We sit down on top of a hill and overlook the pilgrims route. Then we are accompanied by a little girl who is herding some yaks. She smiles, poses for some pictures and just sit next to us to enjoy the scenery. What a loving place this is and what a lovely girl.

We end up in town buying two monstrously big muslim sunglasses. We walk the streets and laugh! What a day!