Cultural Dialogues with José Parlá

Traveler: José Parlá – Artist

Hi José, what was the purpose of your travel? The purpose of the trip was to collaborate with local artists and each other to create an exchange of dialogue between cultures.

tibet china

With how many people did you travel? It was a total team of 12 people. 

Where did you stay? We stayed in hotels and also friend’s houses as well as a monastery in Tibet. The trip took us through many cities including, Shanghai, Beijing in the north, and into the Yunnan province to Kunmming and Li-Jiang before entering the Tibetan Autonomous Zone of Shangri-La and into Hong Kong.

What did you most like about the trip? Being in mainland China and Tibet for the first timewas fascinating.  Seeing the customs, tasting new food, painting and creating in a new atmosphere was amazing. 

chinese colorful

Could you share an unforgettable memory about the trip? One of the best memories was working in Tibet.  We were allowed to go to the school for young monks and see them learn Buddhist History. It was amazing because the setting was astonishingly beautiful.  We were of course in the Himalayas near the Meili Snow Cap Mountains. It was getting dark and the lighting was low. The Monk students taught each other history by clapping their hands loudly next to the other Monk’s face that would sit on the floor as the Monk clapping would stand. The Monk responding to questions would clap as he stood up and forced the other Monk to sit and listen. They would go back and fourth ritualistic movements and we silently observed. It is still one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. 

chinese local

Your most surprising find during the trip The most surprising find I guess was a waterfall that seemed to come out of now-where as we drove past a massive mountain and everyone just could not believe that when the sunlight hit the waterfall, a rainbow bounced of the side of the massive mountain.  It was truly nature’s magic.

Favorite restaurant or food you have tried during your trip There are so many styles of greatfood in China.  My favorite was the southern China style of Szechuan food.


Any hidden gems you could whisper to us? Our trip was really rustic and we spent most of our time in real exploration mode, often eating and hanging out in places that were obscure in name. 

Would you go back? Yes, I would definitely go back. 

Could you list a few of your favorite finds you came back with? My favorite finds were Tribal fabrics that I purchased from local workers in the small villages in Tibet. I also collected several calligraphic manuscripts from both China and Tibet. 


Any tips that might be useful to know before going there? Go up the mountains slowly and come back down to go up. It will help with high altitude sickness. 


Next stop you would like to visit? My next stop I wish to make is Brazil.