Thursday, December 25th, 2003 – Day 310

Thursday, December 25th, 2003 – Day 310

I was up at 8.00am. I found that the first bus to Benzilan was 9.30am. I decided to go there to see what I missed. It cost 20 Yuan. I had some steamed buns and then noddle soup (5 Yuan). It was nice watching people come to market. I saw a couple buy bells for there cattle or animals. They all have bells here in case they get lost. I suppose the tone of the bell is important.

Many of the country people stay here over night. I saw a truck with people last night with people sleeping in it. I saw a few vehicles like that. I saw them again this morning. Maybe a group of 15 people dressed poorly and rather wild looking. They were filling up their truck with the winter supplies like blankets, coats, clothes. They would have spent the last 2 days shopping and would have slept in the truck last night. All the gear was packed onto the truck and also packed so that once the road finished it would be transported on there backs. A wooden type thing was tied up like a back pack frame. Anyway there were a few groups like this.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Deqin – The Town (25-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Deqin – People praying and making offerings for a safe journey (25-12-2003)

There were lots of interesting people at the bus station as well. Over the past few days I have seen many sleeper buses pass through town. They are taking a 3 day trip to Lhasa in tibet. Lucky Devils. They pay about 180 Yuan. The road is closed to foreigners. There are lots of police about to secure that.

It took about 4 hours to get to Benzilan. There were 3 girls on the bus and they spend the whole journey puking. They took turns in the window seat to puke out the window. Non-stop. The drivers do not supply plastic bags like they do in Vietnam. The driver was surprised I got off at Benzilan and I dont blame him. Its a small one street village. There are many monks about including those from a sub sect of the main Buddist religion here called Gelupa (Yellow Hat) Yellow Hat Buddists. Not surprisingly they have yellow hats.

It was sunny but this is a very small one street Tibetan village. Some monks about. I was bored stiff with 10 minutes. The Lonely Planet says no more buses pass through to Zhongian after noon. I did what all the locals were doing. sitting on the pavements and kerbs watching the world go by and the few vehicles passing. I was never so bored and walked up and down the main street about a dozen times. I actually started doudling in my notebook.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Benzilan – The Town (25-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Benzilan – The Town (25-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Benzilan – The Town (25-12-2003)

Anyway in the distance around 3.00p, I saw a bus approach. I actually ran to it and asked whether the driver was going to Zhongian. He laughed and said Shanagrai La. The Whole bus laughted as to point out what a joke the marketing campaign is. It took about 2.5 hours to get there.

As soon as I got off (I paid the driver 15 Yuan) I purchased a ticket to Xiangcheng which is located on the southwest tip of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Region of Sichuan province. it is just on the roadside from Litang,Sichuan province to Zhongdian,Yunnan province. Xiangcheng has a elevation over 3180m and its population is around 25,000,of whom is 93 percent of Tibetans and 7 percent of Han nationality.

It is very isolated – the road to Litang is about 200 km north along a rough road, while the southerly route to Zhongdian can become impassable in the rainy season. On the back road from Yunnan into Sichuan, Xiangcheng hasn’t seen much in the way of foreigner traffic. However, for the local truck drivers who ply this Litang-to-Zhongdian route on their way to and from Tibet, it is an important stopover.

The ticket cost 68 Yuan. It leves at 7.30am and should take 12 hours. I took the number one bus for 1 Yuan back to my hotel. I booked into the room next door and paid 40 Yuan. I had a wash.

I am taking the backdoor route to Sichuan. It involves:

  • Zhongdian to Xiangcheng 12 hours

  • Xiangcheng to Litang 12 hours

  • Litang to Kangding 12 hours

  • Kangding to Chengdu 12 hours

On the NET, I see China has a notoriously poor work safety record. More than 95,600 people were killed in work-related accidents in the first nine months of the year. Today 191 people were killed in a gas explosion in a neifgboting province.

I finsished reading The Road to McCarthy by Pete McCarthy. It was only OK. I enjoyed his stories of bizare far off places and his abilirty to o off in a tangent. The writing while simple was enaging. Overall OK. Its one of those boks that you say after … I could write something like hat.

Guess who I met two minutes after leaving the hostel. The taxi woman who had dispeared from my trip to Naba Lake. She had expected me to ring her mobile. We had a laugtht about it and I told her I walked back into town (white lie). i paid her the 10 Yuan I owned her.

I met up with the English Guy at around 8.00pm. There are only a few places foreigners go to so it was easy. He had met up with a mad German. The German had been studying in Beijing for 4 months and had decided to cycle from Kumning to Tibet. The road was detrorating so he got a bus. He was crazy and a steotypical German. Good natured, terribly funny English especally when he cursed… and he had a wide vocabulary of curse words which he shouted glefully. Anyway we had a few beer and went to another pub. Left about midnight as my bus is at 7.30am.

Funny Christmas Day.

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