Apparently, arro is 'hello' in Tibetan street talk.
At first I thought the monk was pulling my leg, until I realized that I do hear Tibetans greeting each other this way. I almost feel bad, here in Xiahe, that I can't even manage a few words of Chinese (ni hao & xie xie is still about the limit), let alone Tibetan! 'Cause that's what they speak here. Quite amazing and pretty unexpected as well. This place definitely doesn't feel like China anymore.
Did I mention before that this trip wasn't relaxing? Well, maybe not all of China, but Xiahe is definitely relaxing. I love it here. In a mountain valley, next to a river, the town consists pretty much of one street to one side of which is a huge Tibetan monastery. It's an amazing place.
I don't know much about Tibetan Buddhism but it's fabulously abundant and colourful compared to Chinese and especially Japanese Buddhism.
It also means that the main inhabitants in town are Buddhist monks, like the one who taught me two words of Tibetan after he had invited me to his house for tea. Actually, the monks have it much better than Chinese students it seems. The few students I met in Xi'an were telling me that they live in dorms with 8 girls or guys to a room, and with only electricity between 5 and 12pm. Although, besides one lonely lightbulb, I didn't see anything that needs electricity either in the monk's room. But at least he gets a private room!
I have one-and-a-half more days here, in which I hope to make it out to some grasslands nearby and just chill with the local monks. After that it's further northwest again: into the Gobi desert for the Western end of the Great Wall, sand dunes and caves.
P.S. This country *almost* beats Japan in the weird-brand-names-contest: currently I'm drinking WAHAHA purified water!
P.S.2. After seeing Xiahe, a visit to Lhasa - and especially Lhasa's surroundings - is now hight on the wish list. If only to find out what the eight treasures are in Tibetan tea, very yummy!