Magic can happen on the vast Tibetan plateau. Encompassing large swathes of China’s wild, wild west, it is a place of endless skies, towering peaks and beautiful blue lakes.
This epic journey kicks off in the city of Xining, the capital of Quinghai Province and the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau. Home to a mosaic of different ethnic groups including Tibetan, Han, Hui and Monguour communities it is one of the most diverse cities in China. It also the gateway to nearby sights such as Qinghai Lake, the largest lake in the Middle Kingdom.
The focus of this journey is the Tu Shaman Festival, where Tibetan and Tu ethnic communities give thanks to the immortal Mountain God in a range of – often shocking – ways. Highlights of the festival include the lively atmosphere, colourful costumes and great food.
Most memorable, however, are rituals such as Shangkouqian, where a shaman pierces one or two steel needles into both cheeks, and Shangbeiqian where twenty or so long needles are inserted into the backs of male dancers.
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