The Tea Horse Road

My horse needed a rest, so I stopped at the post in Shaxi.
My horse needed a rest, so I stopped at the post in Shaxi.
Met these guys on the trail.
Met these guys on the trail.

Many centuries ago, the Chinese wanted horses, which the Tibetans had; and the Tibetans wanted tea, which was grown in China; so over time a trade route was developed to rival the more northern route now referred to as the Silk Road.

Shaxi is a fine place to hang your hat for a few days.
Shaxi is a fine place to hang your hat for a few days.

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Shaxi (沙溪) is a tiny hamlet that was once a caravan stop on what some historians call the Tea-Horse trading route leading from China through Tibet and on into Burma and India. It began as a trading point for tea and horses during the Tang Dynasty (7th to 10th centuries). Today it is a historic market town that still has a vibrant Friday market and is considered to be the most intact of the old caravan towns.

Shaxi was a breath of fresh air after Dali! Not only was it much smaller but also it was without the throngs of tourists found in Dali. In fact, it had a sleepy, anachronistic feel, with few motor vehicles, several tea shops, and even a number of horses.

I found the sky in my Yunnan tea.
I found the sky in my Yunnan tea.
My hostel, Horsepen 46, is on the left.
My hostel, Horsepen 46, is on the left.

My hostel, Horsepen 46, was indeed a converted horse stable! I enjoyed its peaceful courtyard and the nightly communal dinners for 20 – the young chef even cooked up some vegetarian fare for me. 

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Shaxi.
Shaxi.

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What we call black tea, the Chinese call “red tea.” The above is Chinese black tea: a Shou Pu’er tea.

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The Friday Market at Shaxi.
The Friday Market at Shaxi.
Honey at the market.
Honey at the market.
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4 thoughts on “The Tea Horse Road

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