Ya’an was one of the first rural cities we stayed in after leaving Chengdu on our tandem to ride across Tibetan Sichuan. Luchan, a harder hit town is just to the north. The cities on a fertile rising plain that soon gives way to steep foothills leading to the Tibetan Plateau.
As each week passes word comes of another self-emulation in Tibetan lands of China. Many are young monks, and more and more are women. The grief they must feel for the slow loss of their culture is unimaginable to me. In our tandem travels across Tibet, we saw the government’s attempts at subjugating the Tibetan culture by smothering their lands with emigrants from the Han majority: