Walking up the dusty road beside the river it took us half a day to get to Yanmen (Swallow’s Gate), where we stayed for a night. The Tibetan and Naxi people we met along the way were very friendly – and many of them invited us into their homes to rest and have something to eat. We took up this offer in one small settlement where we heard strange thumping and groaning noises emanating from one of the houses. Inside, we found three young Tibetan monks sat on the floor in an upstairs room performing a house blessing ceremony. They banged drums, blew horns, rang bells and chanted unceasingly, unfazed by the appearance of two foreigner spectators.
Tired from our day of walking, we rested in the house for a while and shared some noodles with our hospitable Tibetan hosts. In some ways, they looked very similar to the Mekong Tibetans photographed by Joseph Rock. They passed the time printing colourful home-made prayer flags and making butter sculptures, which were scattered throughout the house temple. Maize seemed to be the main local crop and the locals spread corn on the road to have the husks split by the wheels of passing vehicles (not that there were many).