Monday, 12 October 2009

Sojourn at Shandan

We were woken on Wednesday morning by a Big Brother loudspeaker blaring out Chinese news and music over Yi Chang, the No 1 sector town which is the Shandan stud HQ. The stud, which was originally established to breed military horses, used to have several thousand horses in four sectors. There are now only a few hundred horses limited to Sector 1, the other sectors having diversified into enterprises such as dairy cattle and rapeseed oil. Our sojourn turned out to be quite action packed – visiting the newly opened museum, media interviews, and being wined (or rather bai jiued) and dined at the town restaurant, where we were offered yak tendon and pigeon stomach among other delicacies.

Our horses also had a rest of sorts – on arrival they were subjected to a vet check before being allowed to rejoin the other stud riding horses – they were none too impressed either by being disinfected or having a thermometer up their backsides – see Bajiu below.

On Thursday they were reshod with metal shoes by the resident farrier, and saddled up to take part in a Zhangye TV film shoot up at the lake behind the town. Unfortunately the beautiful clear weather of the day before had been replaced by icy sleet, and even though it cleared up a bit, you can see in the photo below of me being interviewed that the mountains were still clothed in mist.

Interview with Zhangye TV

'Main street at Shandan stud Yi chang with backdrop of Qilian mountains'

Hua and Shandan by the lake - both apparently suitably attired for fishing.

The day is rounded off by dinner and drinking games with the media.

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