The clock.
The clock.
Tibetan home.
Tibetan home.
Tibetan hosts. Pictures: Melanie Peters.
Tibetan hosts. Pictures: Melanie Peters.
COLLAPSED buildings and rubble frame a sculpture of a huge, jagged  clock face inscribed with a date and time when a natural disaster  struck Sichuan province, China on May 12, 2008.
The structures form part of the Wenchuan Earthquake Memorial Museum,  located in the ancient town of Anren in Dayi County.
The edifice speaks to the triumph of the human spirit; the courage to  get back up when all seems lost.
Nine years ago a devastating earthquake hit Wenchuan. More than 70 000  people were killed and nearly five million were left homeless.
Today breathtaking mountains and forests form the backdrop to the  museum built in memory of  the disaster.
The space, sombre yet tranquil, receives many visitors and tourists.
It is the epicentre of one of China’s worst earthquakes in 30 years.  With a magnitude of 7.9 on the Richter scale, the earthquake destroyed  everything in its path.
A few years ago the Chinese government commissioned architects from  Tongji University, in Shanghai, to build a museum as a reminder that  man has little power when up against the force of nature.
The team was led by architect Cai Yongjie and experts in the field  seismology were able to offer incredible sight. Yongjie designed large  subterranean buildings with green roof tops. From above it offers an
image of a land cracked and destroyed by the underground tectonic  plates.
In the museum stark photographs, relics and wax sculptures tell a  story of the disaster and the rescue mission.  An earthquake simulator  forms part of the narrative to help visitors experience the vibrations
of a real seismic event.
The museum is open everyday.

Taoping Qiang Village

About 16km from Wenchaun is Taoping Qiang Village, in Guangrou County,  Sichaun. It is home to the Qiang people, one of China’s 54 ethnic  groups. The village which dates back 2000 years is well known for its  ancient stone architecture. This includes a “mysterious oriental  castle” which has piqued the curiosity of archaeologist. Tours are  offered a tour through a labyrinth of the alleyways to discover more  of the Qiang-style architecture. 
It is a complex network of stone  towers and dwellings constructed of earth, stones, hemp and wood. Each
house has a white stone, a religious symbol, to ward off evil. The  ancient watchtowers, ranging up to 30m high, take on shapes of  hexagons or octagons. These solidly built towers and homes withstood
the earthquake.
The Qiang people have also managed to preserve their culture and  customs through the ages. In the village, women sell baskets of sweet  cherries picked from nearby orchards and old men sitting at their
gates enjoying barley wine. There are stalls with elegantly  embroidered clothes, scarves and other trinkets particular to the  region. Qiang-style embroidery is a Chinese cultural treasure and the  forte of the Qiang women. The skill has been handed down for more than  1000 years.

Qiudi Village, Lixian County

More than 2000m above sea level in Sichaun’s mountainous rural Lixian  County, about 35km from Wenchaun, is a small community of Jiarong  Tibetans. They live in Qiudi village. Their lives, once marred by
poverty, have been turned around through government programmes.  Their  economy received a welcome boost  through  yak farming, running a  hydro power plant and tourism. Families have opened their homes to
tourists who wish to experience their culture. It is a cultural bed  and breakfast of sorts which locals called “agritainment”. 
Hosts  dressed in ethnic gowns welcome guests into their Tibetan-styled homes  which are ornately decorated with splashes of bold colour. The  mountain air is mint fresh and the locals hospitality warm. It’s a
welcome retreat from city life.