A short day trip outside of Xiahe is the Ganja Grasslands. We opted to rent a taxi with two other travelers for the day. It’s fairly easy to get out here. Just flag down a taxi, negotiate a price & point to where you want to go from your guidebook and then haggle a little.
The rolling hills and plains are a stunning canvas in which to find herds of sheep, yak and cattle grazing.
The area is also home to several of these small walled villages. Dating back over 2000 years, the walls surrounding the village are from the Han dynasty. Be forewarned that they will collect a small ‘entrance fee’ if you step one foot out of your cab. It was a small fee (10-15rmb/less than $2), but the lack of signage or notification that you would be charged for looking at a village led to a small argument with the ‘mayor’. There’s really not much to see anyways, but the fact that you can walk on 2000 year old walls is pretty cool.
Dotting the area are also numerous caves, most of which are considered sacred. Unfortunately, the caves are inaccessible due to a tourist fatality a couple of years ago. The area also is home to a couple of small monasteries, one of which I nearly took a tumble at stepping where I thought there was solid ground. All I managed to do was rip their plastic tarp covering the loose dirt. Fortunately, the couple we were traveling with happened to be carrying duct tape which we used to patch up the flimsy plastic as they scolded us in Chinese for walking through a construction site.
International crisis averted, we headed back to Xiahe and prepared for the trip over the mountain pass to our next stop – Tongren.