WEAVING TWO WORLDS TEXTILES RETREAT

 

AMDO REGION, TIBETAN PLATEAU
AN EXCLUSIVE HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE


2018 DATES:
AUGUST 24-31


10,500 feet up (3,200 meters) on the grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau...

 Nomads, Buddhist monks, and thousands of years of culture...

Empowering our minds, bodies, and the local community...

 

ANOTHER KIND OF LUXURY

Our eight-day comprehensive textile tour will give you an exclusive behind the scenes and hands-on experience of Norlha Textiles. Norlha is an enterprise that weaves together the two apparently opposing worlds of tradition and modernity. From the animal in the pasture, to the gifted hands of their artisans, Norlha's product is a result of the rich heritage of the Tibetan Plateau. Norlha also utilizes modern technology, having developed the Tibetan Plateau's first ever Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, to benefit the local nomads, helping them to expand the business and to meet the high demands of the modern market place. Norlha has collaborated with top fashion designers and high-end Paris fashion houses and has now established a brand of their own. Their approach to sustainability is to support the local nomads by providing them with sustainable employment opportunities, which gives them a stable income, to keep families together and traditions alive. In a world where fast fashion dominates, Norlha offers a product that will last a lifetime, and that will be shared with generations to come.

You are invited to join our textile tour experiencing the rich traditions of the Tibetan culture. We will explore the famous Labrang Tashi Kyil Monastery and visit a local nomad cooperative. Our textile professional, Laura Shirreff, will guide us on this journey of a lifetime. We will witness the meticulous artisanal production during our visit to the Norlha rug weaving workshop as well the atelier at Zorge Ritoma. We will engage in extensive dialogue with the founder of Norlha, Dechen Yeshi, learning about the intricacies of Norlha from the fiber to the finished product. Equipped with our own personal tapestry loom, we will experience the exclusive Norlha yarn and fiber first hand through weaving and felting activities. During our tour we will also have the opportunity to relax and recharge in the awe-inspiring natural environment and enjoy the luxuries and amenities of Norden Camp. We will indulge in the fine seasonal and organic Tibetan cuisine, take time out in the Norden spa and revitalize with an evening yoga class. 

NORDEN CAMP
surrendering yourself to nature


Norden Camp offers urbanites from around the world the rare opportunity to experience authentic Tibetan culture in complete comfort. Managed by and for the benefit of grassland nomads, Norden Camp operates sustainably, without compromising the existing Tibetan Buddhist culture or our spectacular natural environment. Located at 3,200 meters (10,500 feet) above sea level, Norden Camp is situated 20 minutes outside of Labrang, the famous Tibetan monastic town in the Tibetan Autonomous Kanlho Prefecture, Gansu Province, China. The 11 hectare (27 acre) site borders a meandering river and is home to gazelles, hares, marmots and foxes, and visited by a vibrant array of migratory birds. 
 

CUISINE
organic, seasonal and from rich Tibetan soil


Norden Cuisine is based on the local pastoral lifestyle and the food derived from it. Ours is an innovative, culturally conscious menu rooted in tradition, based on local seasonal products, and suitable for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. The area is untouched by development and the food that emanates from the pasture is organic by default. The milk from dris (female yaks) grazing in areas teeming with medicinal plants is known for its high nutritional value and reduced lactose content; it is the source of our healthy and delicious butter, yogurt and cream. The pasture in summer abounds in local herbs and mushrooms that can be collected daily and added to the menu. Bread is baked in traditional mud brick ovens and noodles are hand pulled and fresh at every meal. 
 

YOUR IMPACT
supporting local communities


Norden Travel and Norlha Textiles' mission is to generate sustainable employment for former nomads while offering exceptional, uniquely Tibetan experiences and products. With nomadism on the decline and in a fragile state, Tibetans are often left with no choice but to move into the large cities to search for work. Norlha and Norden's employment and skills training allows these Tibetans and their families to stay in their home villages, keep their traditions, and give to the world a product and experience they are proud of. Your participation in the retreat directly supports these initiatives. Rooted also in environmental sustainability, Norden chooses eco-friendly practices. During the winter months, when the camp is closed, the yak hair tents are dismantled and the land returns to grazing pasture. In a world where fast fashion dominates, Norlha offers a product that will last a lifetime, to be shared with generations to come. 


MEET YOUR INSTRUCTORS

Laura Shirreff

Laura was born in the US and was raised in the UK. Studying at an international school, her passion for weaving, yoga and Asian studies began at sixteen years of age.  Since then, more than sixteen years later, her passions have remained intertwined. Laura continues to deepen her knowledge and expertise through her professional as well as her personal practice.

Laura graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Textiles and a minor concentration in Asian Studies. She is also a qualified yoga instructor, receiving her certification from the Sacred Fig in Bali. She has had a rich and diverse textile career that included six and a half years as a textile designer in Shanghai, China, where she worked for ICICLE, a Chinese eco-friendly fashion company. She is married to Bone Lhamo Kyap, who originates from Gansu Province, his hometown not far from Norden Camp. Laura now works independently as a designer and consultant under their company RIGPA ARTS. 

She continues to look for opportunities to collaborate with unique designers, as well as commercial companies that hold natural environment and sustainability at the heart of their mission and vision. She is excited to be working together with Norlha Textiles to lead specialist textiles tours on the Tibetan Plateau.

Dechen Yeshi

Dechen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Norlha. The concept behind Norlha was formulated and implemented by her mother, Kim Yeshi. Dechen and Kim are a close-knit team who work together seamlessly. Dechen is the product of two cultures, Tibetan and Euro/American. She has formed an ideal link between the Tibetan village community and the demands of the modern luxury market.                                                    

Dechen graduated from Connecticut College, where she majored in Asian studies and film. She has lived in Amdo since 2005 when she began to research the economics and dynamics of the region. She single-handedly trained all of the staff and established the infrastructure for the Norlha workshop.

On Days Two and Three, Dechen will lead us on an in-depth, behind the scene tour of Norlha's atelier and the local village of Zorge Ritoma. Through her knowledge and expertise, we will discover the secret behind the success, as well as the challenges and the intricacies of establishing a sustainable luxury brand in a remote Tibetan region. 


ACCOMMODATION

Norden - Yak Khullu Tent
18 Square Meters, Two Twin Beds
Adjacent Detached Eco-Friendly Toilets
Stove Heating

Norden - Log Cabin
24 Square Meters, Two Double Beds or King Bed
Ensuite Eco-Friendly Bathrooms
Stove Heating

Norlha Textiles - Guesthouse
Two Double Beds
Western Bathrooms and Showers
Centralized Stove Heating


ITINERARY

Day 1: Travel, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Staggered airport pickups from Xiahe Airport (XHE), Lanzhou Airport (LHW), and Lanzhou hotels.
 Settle in at Norlha guest house, relax, and acclimatize to the altitude. Orientation and welcome dinner. 

Day 2: Visit Norlha, Tour with Dechen Yeshi
Morning Norlha tour and discussion with Dechen Yeshi. Lunch at Norlha's guest house. 
Afternoon tour of Ritoma Village. Overnight stay at Norlha's guest house.

Day 3: Tour of the local Village, Felting Activity
Morning hands-on felting activity with Norlha's exclusive yak fiber. Afternoon visit to Sky Monastery.
Overnight stay at Norlha's guest house.

Day 4: Travel to Norden Camp, Relaxation, Spa and Yoga Class
Morning scenic drive to Norden Camp. Camp tour and orientation.
Afternoon time to relax and enjoy the Norden hot tub and sauna. Evening yoga class.

Day 5: Labrang Monastary Tour, Shopping in the Local Markets
Morning guided tour of Labrang Tashi Kyil Monastery. Afternoon time to explore the historic town
and shop for ethnic food, traditional clothing and souvenirs in the popular local markets.

Day 6: Visit the Lungta Cooperative, Relaxation and Yoga Class
Morning journey to meet local nomads at the Lungta cooperative and experience the yak-based delicacies. 
Afternoon free time to relax. Evening yoga class.
 
Day 7: Visit Norlha's Carpet Weaving Workshop, Weaving Activity
Morning visit to Norlha's carpet weaving workshop. Afternoon tapestry loom weaving instruction and time to work on personal woven art project. 
  
Day 8: Final Farewells and Departures
Parting blessings and transfers to airports.


OUR WEAVING TWO WORLDS EXPERIENCE

Join our Weaving Two World Textile Tour to experience the two seemingly opposing worlds of tradition and modernity, of luxury and sustainability. Both Norlha and Norden effortlessly bring together these worlds to offer unique hand-crafted, luxurious products and awe-inspiring experiences on the Tibetan Plateau. Our tour allows a rich and memorable sampling of what Norlha and Norden have to offer. 

We begin our tour in Zorge Ritoma, the traditional Tibetan village that Norlha Textiles chose to make its home. After the airport pickups, we have time to settle in at Norlha’s guest house, relax, and acclimatize to the altitude. We will have an orientation and welcome dinner. After a good night rest and a hearty breakfast, Co-founder Dechen Yeshi will lead us on a tour of Norlha's atelier, sharing with us her knowledge and experience since its opening in 2007. After a nutritious lunch at Norlha's guest house, we will have a guided tour of the village, getting to know more deeply the socio-cultural impact of the Norlha enterprise. 

On the morning of Day Three, we have the chance to experience a hands-on felting activity with Norlha's exclusive yak fiber. In the afternoon we will visit the nearby Sky Monastery (also known as Kangsta Monastery) before spending our last night at Norlha’s guest house. Kangsta, a small monastery situated on the border between Zorge and Karkya, is amongst the oldest Gelukpa monasteries in Amdo. It has been under the administration of Labrang since the 18th century and remains connected to its medical college. Tibetan monk doctors who were trained at Labrang maintain a clinic and a pharmacy of  herbal medications made from plants collected every summer on the pasture. 

In the morning of Day Four we will enjoy a scenic two and a half hour drive to Norden Camp. In the afternoon we will have time to relax and enjoy the Norden hot tub and sauna. Laura will offer an optional evening yoga class for those who feel inspired to unwind with an asana and meditation practice before our dinner.  

 

On Day Five, after enjoying a hearty breakfast we set off to the nearby town of Labrang, for a guided tour of Tashi Kyil Buddhist Monastery, the largest and most famous Buddhist monastery in the Amdo region. After lunch at the Norden cafe, we have time to explore the town of Labrang, an important pilgrimage destination and considered the cultural heart of Amdo Tibetan culture. There are local thangka workshops and markets full of mala beads, incense, jewelry and more. Norlha also has a shop location in Labrang that showcases their beautiful products that can be purchased at competitive prices. 

In the morning of Day six, we will journey a few kilometers from the camp to meet local nomads at the Lungta cooperative. This is a groundbreaking enterprise founded by a group of farmers from Tsayig. Spread over 100 hectares of rolling hills, the cooperative comprises 140 yaks, six mud colored cabins, a yak hair nomad tent and other tents staffed by twelve nomadic men and women. Modeled after the cheese-making tradition of France and Switzerland, the cooperative has a cheese cellar, which produces a good quality yak cheese as well as packaged butter for the local market. We will get a chance to try some of the delicacies before returning to Norden in the afternoon. Back at camp, we will have free time to relax and take in the surrounding natural beauty. In the evening Laura will offer an optional yoga class for those who want to stretch and rejuvenate before dinner. 
 
On our penultimate day we spend the morning at Norlha‘s carpet weaving workshop in Labrang. Norlha’s carpet project began in 2016. The aim of the project, supported by local government funding, was to train people from other areas and eventually to set up a joint venture in Choni, providing opportunity and employment there. Norlha carpets are unique, using only indigenous sheep wool from Central Tibet, famous for its length and luster, Norlha‘s carpets concentrate on texture, mixing traditional Tibetan carpet making processes with those currently used elsewhere. We will get a chance to observe this fascinating carpet making process and try our hand using some of the knotting techniques. In the afternoon, Laura will introduce us to the basics of tapestry weaving. We will each be given a frame loom to start our own personal project that we can take home after the tour. For our projects, we will have exclusive access to Norlha’s natural yak wool yarn. We have a rare opportunity to experience this yarn, as it is not sold or available for use beyond Norha‘s own production. 

On our last day, after a delicious and nourishing breakfast, we will offer each other our parting blessings before we depart for the airport. We will take with us the white khata ཁ་བཏགས་ scarf, as memory of our Weaving Two Worlds experience and as a symbol of the purity and compassion of Tibetan hospitality. 


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8-DAY IMMERSION (per person)
Shared Tent: $2,200USD  |  Shared Cabin: $2,800USD|  Single Cabin: $3,600USD

WHAT IS INCLUDED:

3 Nights Norlha Textiles Guesthouse
4 Nights Norden Camp
All Meals (Lunch/Dinner Day 1, Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Days 2-7, Breakfast Day 8)
All Ground Transportation
All Activities & Guides

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TO BE ARRANGED BY GUEST:
Airfare

We recommend flights into:
Xiahe Airport (GXH), a 30 minute drive to camp, accessible worldwide via Lhasa, Chengdu, and Xi'an (recommended site for Xiahe flight: www.ctrip.com).
Lanzhou Airport (LHW), a 4.5 hour drive to camp, accessible worldwide via all major Chinese cities. 

Visa
A Chinese visa is generally required to enter China (please consult your country's embassy and China visa policy). No Tibet Autonomous Region (T.A.R.) special permit is needed to enter this region of the Tibetan Plateau. 

Travel Insurance
Please consult your local travel insurance agency.

Incidentals
We recommend bringing extra spending money for additional food and alcohol, Norlha purchases, souvenirs, etc. 


LOCATION

Amdo Region, Tibetan Plateau (northeastern edge of the plateau)
Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, China. 

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