Once solely a part of Tibet, following the hostile takeover by Mao’s Red Army during the Cultural Revolution the Amdo region was absorbed within what are today parts of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces. As this region is outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), now also a province of China, the stringent travel restrictions for foreigners that apply in the TAR don’t apply here, but from time to time the Tibetan regions in this area are also closed to foreigners.
Over close to three weeks and two visits I saw some bustling monastery’s, traditional ceremonies, spectacular landscapes and was fortunate enough to meet some great new friends who showed me nothing by incredible kindness and hospitality. My second visit to the area coincided with a particularly sensitive time when the TAR was closed. This led to a couple of run-ins with the police and it was obvious that the government didn’t want foreigners in this area either. Luckily the final run in was when I was trying to leave the area and I wasn’t made to leave earlier than I had planned. Despite the police incidents my time here was the highlight of my trip to China and getting to spend time in an active monastery off the tourist track and with a Tibetan family was exactly what I had hoped to have the opportunity to do.