Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Western Sichuan

From Chengdu I headed off into Western Sichuan where China meets Tibet. The 7 journey was delayed by 2 hours due to a vehicle crash. A poor man in a blue van had a head wound due to what looked like the cab crushing him but everyone was just stood around smoking. Very different to a UK accident scene. Eventually an ambulance did arrive and some rather pathetic looking policemen who eventually got traffic flowing again. It was snowing when I arrived in Kangding and I found a tiny room with a squat toilet across the hall and no shower or heating. I resorted to rice wine to get me through the night. The next day it was still snowing and though I asked around, no-one seemed to want to take me to Tagong (the snow or the worry about foreigners reporting about Tibet?). So I spent the day exploring a local temple and monastery and then got on a bus to Danba arriving there at night. I found a much nicer room here with not only a shower but a hot one as well. On the way a policeman got on the bus and asked me a lot of questions and registered my passport. Once in my hotel, after a much needed shower, I was again confronted by a policeman asking if I was a journalist and what I was doing out here by myself (I was the only Westerner in Danba). I don't think my answers were very satisfactory and the fact that I wander around with a notebook at all times, does not help my case! The next day I found a great little street cafe where I had the best Baozi I have had in all of China so far (steamed buns made with rice flour, stuffed with meat and veg and spices) and then a kind of Chinese ravioli, freshly made. Not very Tibeten food wise, but it was delicious anyway. I was also won over by the super friendly owner who insisted I also try her and her friends dinner. I then set out to find the Tibeten villages and Qiang towers I had read about. I trekked out to the village of Suopo and nestled into the hillside, it was beautiful. It was a fantastic day (lower elevation than Kangding so no snow and lots of sun) and the rawness of the hills, the height and the picture perfect Tibeten villages were awesome to see. The next day I headed back to Chengdu a day earlier than I had hoped as I was concerned I may miss my evening train to Xi'an if I left the following day. It turned out I was right to be concerned as after setting out on the bus at 6.30am, the bus broke down 3 hours later. We then had to wait another 3 hours for a replacement bus, during which time, the bus driver and a passenger got into a fight that left the bus driver with a bloody face and nose. When the bus eventually did arrive, we had to drop the first bus driver off at the hospital. The next 7 hours was spent driving through the hills of Western Sichuan which was very picturesque. There were many stone villages sitting among terraces and glacial peaks to pass the time. I finally arrived in Chengdu around 8.30pm, just in time for St Patrick's day celebrations!

The car crash on the way to Kangding

Snowing in Kangding

A 400 year old temple and monastery in Kangding


Tibeten style decoration

Inside one of the halls in the Nanwu Temple and Lamasary

The Nanwu Temple and Lamasary

A monk at the Nanwu Temple

A lot of monks gathered together

Some local women in Danba

A bridge across the river, complete with Tibeten prayer flag colours

Tibeten housing looking across towards Suopo Village and the glacial peaks beyond

A local lady

Suopo village and Qiang towers

The stunning terraced landscape

Tibeten style houses

More Tibeten style houses

A Tibeten style house with colourful decoration

Danba town centre

The scenery on the way back to Chengdu

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