Wild Wild West of Sichuan in China
Lens Magazine|October 2020
Exploring Tibet had always been on my bucket list of travel documentary project. In 2018, I had the opportunity to visit Tibet, and it was the most incredible travel experience.
José Jeuland

It was an unplanned trip, where I booked a ticket to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan States, and from there, took a 15 hours bus ride to Ganzi (or Garzê) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

I was the only one who did not look like a Tibetan. During the trip, I met a young lady named Qi May Ze Young. Tibetan names are usually composed of 4 words. After hearing my reasons as to why I was traveling to her part of the world, the young Tibetan lady was kind enough to extend a warm invitation for me to stay with her family. I was thrilled at the offer and was looking forward to seeing where this journey would take me. When I reached her home, I received an incredible welcome. It was unbelievable to receive so much kindness and have people who open their doors without any fears to a stranger like me.

Tradition and modernity: Every day was a new experience as her family and the monk took care of me and brought me to various places to experience both the tradition and the modern world of Tibet. There was no water system, toilet, or shower in the house, but after a few days, I found out they had wifi - It was so funny because I was cut from any internet connection in the house and never thought of asking them if they had wifi as the question did not cross my mind. At one point in time, they did not understand why I was not using my phone for translation, and it was then they asked me why I was not using the wifi. It was so funny. During temple celebrations, some Tibetans donated to the monk via touch pay from phone to phone with Wechat. How traditional life incorporate modern element. I stay in touch these days with the family.

My experience with the family: The entire family slept in the same room to keep one another warm, and I slept in a separate room. The mother of the family cooked every day and took care of my every meal.

Some of the meat I consumed were frozen and uncooked. The family refused to accept any form of monetary exchange from me and even gave me precious tokens belonging to the family, which I hold dearly till today. One of them is with me every day.

The natural landscape surrounding the house was absolutely mesmerizing. Winter meant the mountains were lushly snow-capped and saw the countryside's raw beauty, as it was untouched by industrialization - I was determined to capture as much of it as possible. I foresee a return trip shortly, as a single trip was not enough to document all that the Autonomous Region of Tibet had to offer.

Roaming the streets, I observed monks in colored robes walking about and people holding prayer wheels. The place is rich in its own unique culture and traditions passed down for many generations.

Numerous colorful prayer flags flew high, which held great significance to the natives. Red seems to be a prominent color that is related to life force and preservation in Buddhism. Along the green pastures, one can see yaks, sheep, and sometimes goats grazing the fields. The rolling countryside with its mountains, hills, and other rocky terrains made up the Tibetan Autonomous Region's scenic landscape.

Agriculture is the area's primary industry, and food is vital because of its cold climate. It keeps them warm and provides them with sufficient energy to carry out their daily activities. Houses are made of stones, soil, wood, and other raw materials like Yak's poop.

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