Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sun Halo

Today we looked into the sky and beheld the most amazing sight! I had never seen this before, and we all didn't know if this was a normal occurrence in nature, or something unique to this area of the world? Later that evening, when we had time to check it out, we read the following explanation for the halo we saw around the sun:

"These rainbows, or rings are caused by ice crystals that form within cirrus clouds. Cirrus clouds usually appear at very high altitudes, usually above 8000 meters or 26,000 ft. These clouds tend to be ver
y thin, due to the lack of abundant moisture at those altitudes. This type of halo is also called a 22° halo, with the ring around the sun appearing usually 44 times larger the sun. The crystals that form in the clouds are hexagonal in shape, which act as prisms for the sun’s light." ( my friend Elizabeth said.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

4:30am Photography Tours

I absolutely love all the fabulous people we get to meet through running this hostel. Recently, we had a photographer from Colorado, Dan (Dan Ballard Photography, stay with us for about a week. Somehow he convinced Kris to wake up with him at 4:30am on several occasions to catch the early morning light on the mountains. I especially enjoyed having him around, having grown up in Colorado and with my photographer father who loved to find remote and beautiful places to catch just the right lighting... For one the trips, I was considering taking the group out to photograph near Ya Jia Gein, one of my favorite locations near Kangding, but Kris ended up going...and in the end, when I heard what happened that morning, I was so relieved I hadn't been the one driving. As it turned out, they hit a patch of black ice around a curve, and nearly drove off the side of the mountain. Incredibly, the front of the car hit a rock that was right on the edge of the drop off. They moved the rock a foot, but that wonderful rock prevented them from going off the edge. Kris said he thought for sure they were going over. His thought was, "I might survive this, but there isn't going to be anything left of this car." Oh, I love that rock. Thank you, thank you rock for being there. Because it was there, there was no damage to the car or anyone in it. And they all still chose to continue on?!

Outside the car after the skid off the road.

The skid marks left from our car...and the rock they hit.

Dan being videoed by the surfer brothers.

Trying to get into the lake on the road but there was too much snow.
They parked back on the main road and hiked into the lake.

Click to see some of the photos Dan captured in the early mornings with Kris. He photographed #6, #9, #10, #13, #22, #25, and #28 all from locations near the hostel. Dan, your photos are absolutely stunning. Come back again someday! Here are some of Kris' own photos from those mornings:

Despite the near run off the road!??, we did enjoy these early mornings full of quiet, stunning beauty. Thanks to Dan, we may just end up making these a regular event at Zhilam.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Random Photos

I don't know whose these pictures are or where they came from, but I found them on a CD left at the hostel from someone's trip to Lhasa. I thought these two pictures were amusing!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A New Patio

Since we rented this building 3 years ago, we have had problems with water leaking from the ceiling in one of the dorm rooms, and water damage on the far wall of the building because our patio didn't have a thick enough layer of cement. Ever since we've opened we've wanted it done, but the landlord has kept saying he will do it when he's finished his other building projects. I've been dreading which day he will do it, as the project blocks off access to the front door and the two outdoor rooms for 3 days to a week. Unlike the pessimistic scenario I often imagined, he has begun the project this week, which we are thrilled about. Business has been very slow due to travel restrictions, making it a perfect week to do it. We are delighted we don't have to try to manage the water problem another whole season, or deal with this in the middle of managing a lot of guests. For now, we just have to exit and enter our house by walking across a thin board, and use the downstairs double doors for the hostel. Definitely worth the momentary inconvenience.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


This weekend we had a very full house...28 guests total with a hostel capacity of 22! Thankfully, we just recently rented the second floor of our landlord's home, giving us some more space. On Friday Kris actually painted the new room, set up three beds, and build another bed from scratch to accommodate a group of four Israeli travelers who wanted to stay on another night even though we were booked out for the weekend. But the point of all of this is actually to say that we named our new Tibetan mastiff puppy just in time, the day before the weekend began: Nala! Did the guests enjoy Nala? Questionable. Did Nala enjoy the guests? Absolutely.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Path of Peace

Today I tried my hand at making a sign for the hostel with our name in Tibetan, "Zhilam Dronkang" or "The Path of Peace".

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pure Water

Today we changed the water filter in our house...and this is what it looked like. Recently, a local friend observed us fixing the hostel water filter and commented, "You don't need one of those here! We have some of the cleanest water in China here in Kangding!" True. Very true statement. And I very much appreciate living "up stream" and right beneath the snow runoff of 20,000ft peaks. But I think I'm still going to keep using our water filter.