I had arrived in Xiangcheng, Kham (Southwestern Sichuan) and was looking for a cheap place to stay. Repeatedly getting turned away because I was a foreigner. I had expected this as the city has a massive amount of police.
Walking down an alley, to check out a possible place, to check out a Tibetan hotel, Yaxi caught my eye but I turned away because my first impression was of beauty yet complete intimidation. He was also standing outside a gambling/arcade (he actually works there).
He tried to get my attention but I refused because I have my “rules”.
Running behind, he caught up with me and I couldn’t refuse talking. I stumble over my Chinese because I’m completely caught off guard.
We make the brief introductions, where I’m from, what I’m doing, and what I need. Yaxi, you are gorgeous.
From my photos, you would think that all Tibetans walk around in their traditional dress…but there is also the modern, city, Tibetans. Yaxi is a year younger than I.
He insists on pushing my bike for me. Chivalry is not dead among the Tibetans. We try 3 different hotels, continually getting turned away.
Pushing up a hill he looks at me and says, “you can stay at my home”…I stammer and reassures me his “wife” is at home through his beautiful and gentle smile.
To make this story a little shorter, I ended up spending 6 days there with them. I had lost my eyeglasses a few km back and was walking around with sunglasses at night. They did find a motorcycle and his wife drove me to the edge of town a few days later where I found my crushed eyeglasses…with one lens. I would live without eyeglasses for 14 days.
They were the most pleasant hosts and I didn’t spend a cent. We took walks, visited the temple, spent nearly every moment together. I would hang out at the gambling joint. Man, those Tibetans like to gamble!
One afternoon, out on the stoop, where this photo was taken…there was a very heated debate for an hour or so about “The D.L.”. Yaxi and his wife ARE Tibetans from Qinghai and they had workmates that were Han. There was screaming and shouting…when the Tibetans walked through the alley, they would either run quickly by or stand back listening to the conversation. I was hiding in the shadow behind the door, keeping a look out for police.
Yaxi and his wife look at me…I understood most of this conversation…and they look at me in sincerity and ask me in Chinese…”what do you think”? I sink into my chair and I say, “I’m an American…YOU KNOW what I think.” This is enough for them.
Last week I spoke to Yaxi on the phone briefly, he can not speak English. We ended up communicating more via text message. He is currently at his home in Kangding. He wants me to return to spend more time with him and his family. We briefly discussed the current situation and we both agree that I “can’t” come right now because it’s “very very very bad”, “but after”…”after” what I ponder.
Yaxi reassured me and that he and his family are okay, as I worry of him. Yaxi, my little brother…my thoughts are with you, your family, and all the Tibetans. “meiguoren he xizangren pengyou”