Having seen the upper lengths of the Yellow River, we spent time examining the different types of human inhabitation.
Nomadic Tibetan people have throughout history have lived along the banks of the Yellow River in the area now designated as Sanjiangyuan National Park. Surviving through herding yak and sheep, these nomads continue to move according to the shifting flows of the river.
Their lives in some senses have modernised, using solar panels to generate electricity for various home appliances, and motorcycles have been popularised to replace the use of horses for the majority of their herding. As with nomadic people across other cultures, families are still large so to provide more people to help with the herding. Few of them head to the cities, choosing to keep to their own ways of life. Due to fears of over grazing of the natural landscape, the local government has enforced restrictions on the size of herds.
Yushu, a city hit by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake in 2010, was completely destroyed. Today, it is rapidly re-developing after fundraising and donations from the government as well as aid organisations – the population has now doubled with many villages moving their populations to this newly constructed city. It does, however, cling on to some of its old ways, with the Xinzha Manistone, a place of prayer for locals, slowly building up again, continuing on from what locals say is 2000 years of its practice.
The excess of money Yushu received from the Qinghai government is now used to fund the construction of new highways and roads, in harsh conditions for the workers, that snake through Sanjiangyuan, in an effort to bring more tourism back to the region, having fallen off the radar after the earthquake.