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Photo Essay: Life on the Tibetan Plateau

We had the chance to visit the Tibetan Plateau in December 2016, to see where our yak fiber comes from, understand what life is like, and experience Tibetan people, culture and food.

Yaks on the road in Gangcha, Qinghai

Yaks on the road in Gangcha, Qinghai

Yaks are an important part of life for Tibetans, and new roads have criss-crossed the once completely open landscape. It is very common to come across yaks in the middle of the road.

Young herder guiding her yaks into new pastures

A young herder guiding her yaks towards new pastures

A typical family owns 100-200 yaks and relies on them for milk, fiber, transport, dung, and meat. Almost all of their income is derived from their yaks.

Dorjee, founder of iYak, amongst yaks

Dorjee, founder of iYak, showing us where he collects yak fiber

Yak fiber is collected from hundreds of herders every year by Dorjee, who pays the herders a fair price and turns the raw fiber into dehaired yak down ready for production.

Frozen river on the grasslands near Gangchan, Qinghai

The frozen rivers prove that it is much colder than it looks

Much of the Tibetan Plateau has clear skies and cold air during winter, with little snow. By February the snow will have arrived and turned this dry landscape into an endless sea of white.

Towns and cities are developing rapidly on the Tibetan Plateau

Gangcha is fast becoming the new home for many Tibetans

Being a herder is not an easy life, and increasing difficulties and pressures have led to many Tibetans moving to towns and cities. The transition can be difficult, and many would likely choose to remain on the grasslands if they were able to support that way of life.

The Longwu Monastery, Rebkong

Buddhism is ingrained in Tibetan culture

Buddhism is extremely important for most Tibetans, and no matter how involved they are with the religion, the concepts and ideas remain. The architecture and colours used were captivating and it was an absolute joy to be surrounded by these amazing structures.

Pilgrims completing a kora at Labrang Monastery

Pilgrims completing a kora at Labrang Monastery

Every day thousands of pilgrims complete a kora (clockwise walk around the the outside of the monastery) at Labrang Monastery. Labrang is one of the most important Tibetan monasteries outside of Lhasa.

Small Tibetan village in the hills near Langmusi

Small Tibetan village in the hills near Langmusi

Hundreds of smalls villages still exist and people live their lives much the same way that they have for centuries. Modern equipment such as motorbikes have replaced horses and given these people a greater connection to the outside world.

Monastery in Langmusi

Monks live in houses in the Monasteries

Hundreds of monks live in old mud-brick houses inside the two monasteries in Langmusi. Surrounding by tall peaks, pine forests and grasslands, Langmusi is a popular spot for adventure tourists, and one of our favourite places we have been to.