While in Jiuzhaigou, I stayed a Tibetan homestay about 15km outside of town. I arrived a day earlier than my reservation, but I rolled the dice on the fact that we (i.e. they) would be able to figure something out. After speaking with my hosts on the phone, and being told that they'd pick me up in 15 minutes, I waited nearly an hour in the rain, unsure whether or not anyone would be coming to meet me at the bus station. Eventually someone came, tapped me on the shoulder, showed me a photo of Zhuo Ma's homestay, and off we went. My driver spoke no English.
The homestay also owned a restaurant in town, near the entrance to Jiuzhaigou, and whenever I needed a ride back to the homestay, I could show up at the restaurant, A Bu Lu Zi, where I would be greeted warmly and served lukewarm tea until a driver could be located. Sometimes it was two hours, but I never minded because everyone was so friendly, albeit not always efficient.
The food at the homestay was fantastic: eggs, fresh buckwheat bread, honey, yak meat, onions, peppers, even French fries made from potatoes freshly dug out of the earth that afternoon.
In the front yard, there was a beautiful dog, a handful of roosters, and a rabbit that I think was wild, but may not have been, because I did see it wandering in the house one morning.
My room was in the attic, and it was full of large bugs (spiders, mosquitos, moths). I stayed there for three nights, and the bugs mostly left me alone. What was more troubling was the extremely steep ladder, that at times I had to ascend or descend in complete darkness.
The home was painted brightly, and full of life: children playing and serving tea, and a grandmother who smiled always. She wore a heavy, handcrafted belt (~20 lbs.) that she told us, via a bilingual guest, that she had worn for decades, since she was a teenager.
|The living room of our homestay, where meals where served.|
|Another shot of the living room, with Zhuo Ma's children watching TV.|
|One of the employees at A Bu Lu Zi, the Tibetan restaurant owned by the homestay; he sang loudly, greeted everyone enthusiastically, and was curious about my tattoo.|
|Zhuo Ma's dog; Jiuzhaigou, China.|
|One of Zhuo Ma's children; he was constantly kicking, punching, baiting me to play with him, and speaking to me in either Chinese or the local Tibetan dialect; also, he or his older brother lifted my iPhone charger, but another guest retrieved it for me shortly before I was scheduled to depart, at about five-thirty in the morning.|