I adore the grassland mountains of the Kham area of Tibet. The mountains are so big but with their lack of trees, they remind me of huge rolling hills. Horseback riding over these fabulous mountains was sheer pleasure and was one of my favorite activities on my 6 week journey through Tibet, Chengdu, China and India. I would have loved to have spent more time riding in Tagong.
After our stay with the nomadic family, the husband took us girls [Liz, Valeria (an Israeli girl we picked up in Tagong who was traveling through China for several months by herself!) and myself] on a horseback ride back to town. After a little challenge getting everyone on the right horse, we were off to enjoy our day. The guide took the lead and I took up the rear. My OCD of needing to know where everyone is and that they are ok was taking over my brain until I settled in the rear. I could then relax and just enjoy the mountains that I love. It was so peaceful and serene, no traffic, no noise just silence. He was taking us the long way to see as much of the mountain side as we could. I should say that we also had 3 foals following along with us since we were riding their mommas! They were so funny to watch.
I hadn’t been on a horse for a few years and the last time I was actually on a full days ride was one I was in 8th grade and went to England (I lived in Germany at that time) for a week to go riding. You use muscles that you aren’t used to and it takes a little time to get adjusted to being in a saddle. Liz said she did it once but never again. I could have been out riding for a few days. The only thing I would miss would be a hot shower!
It is funny how you figure out ways to communicate with people when you don’t speak each others languages. Our guide was telling us we were going to go to lunch. I looked at my watch and was pretty sure there was no way that was possible. The guide and I chatted in our own languages and came to the conclusion we had to head a different way to make Tagong on time. Sadly we were no able to have lunch with a nomadic family as we had to meet our driver who would take us back to Kangding. Although I would have rather kept riding, I didn’t want to keep our driver waiting.
On our way back, we chased off a pack of wild dogs that were contemplating giving us a hard time and scaring the horses. Nomadic horses can be rather skittish. Closer into town some of the other ponies didn’t like our horses in their territory so we had to show them who was boss! My horse’s foal was little Mr. Slow Poke and I had to watch out for him a lot since the horses were picking on the babies the most.
The weather was perfect. Lovely sunny day until we were pretty close to town and then it started to rain. So great timing. Riding in the rain is not as fun and you have to be more careful with the horses. The ground was already really saturated from the previous days rain. I only wish we had more time to go a few other places. I might have had to go by myself as my companions were over the horses!
If you get the chance to go to Tagong, I would highly recommend going riding. Angela who used to run Khampa Cafe & Arts in Tagong set up the ride for us. She is a little hard to get a hold of as are most people in Tagong but when you get there they are super helpful. She has a new place outside of Tagong that will be opening soon, check her out a Definitely Nomadic.
The new owner of Khampa Cafe is Max and his girlfriend Coco. We didn’t stay there on this trip but highly recommend it. The food is awesome and everything is very clean. Max makes the BEST schnitzel in all of Tagong! LOL
Kris at Zhilam Hostel in Kangding knows how to do anything you want to do so he, his wife and employees are your go to for Kham. More about Zhilam and Khampa in another post.
Just looking at these pictures brings a sense of calm and pleasant memories.