I camped next to this Amdo Tibetan family last month. They live in a remote region about 110km west of Mado (Maduo) along the shore of Ngoring Lake. Ngoring Lake is one of the main sources which the Yellow River (known as the Ma Chu in Tibetan) flows out of. Nomads are very friendly and hospitable people.
This region sits at 4400m and is well above the tree line. Snow can fall here any day of the year. At night, it was well below freezing even though it was mid-May. Our tents were covered with thick frost in the mornings. I bought 10kg worth of dried yak dung from this family so I could build a campfire. They invited me and my Tibetan friend traveling with me in to share a small meal with them in their black yak hair tent. The meal was some dried yak meat with rice, topped with a lot of yak butter poured over the top served with some milk tea. It was actually quite good.
The family consisted of a set of parents, 3 daughters, a son and a niece of the father. The two younger daughters and the son spent a lot of time over at our tent, which was about 200m from their family's tent. We shared some of our snack food with them which they seemed to enjoy. Living in the remote area where they do,it is not often that they are able to eat any candy. The children have never been to school since the nearest school was nearly 4 hours away by 4WD. The nomads of Tibet are some of the poorest people in China.
On the last morning of our stay at Ngoring Lake, we went over to the nomad family's tent and took a lot of pictures of them. I told them I would bring them a copy of the pictures next time I am in the area. More and more nomads are moving to small towns each year. Who knows how many nomads will exist in 20 years. Tibetan nomads offer a view of traditional Tibetan life and culture that is getting harder and harder to find. I spend a lot of time each year with nomads in both Amdo and Kham. Some of the best times of my life have been spent with them. If you have an opportunity to see authentic Tibetan nomadic life, I encourage you to take it. It will be an unforgetable experience.
For more information about Tibetan nomads, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org