Tuesday, December 30th, 2003 – Day 315 to Wednesday, December 31st, 2003 – Day 316

Tuesday, December 30th, 2003 – Day 315

Kangting , city (1990 pop. 98,960), W Sichuan prov., China, in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Region. It is a transportation center on the main road from Chengdu to Lhasa, Tibet. The development of a hydroelectric plant has allowed Kangding to establish some light industries. Until 1950 it was the capital of Xikang prov.

I was up around 9.30am. It was cold but it was the best sleep in I have had for a while. The town is very busy with Chinese as its close to the bus station. People were up and about and having showers by 7.00am. I walked 5 minutes to the station and my worst fears were realised, all the early buses were sold out. he earliest I could get was 12.15pm. Ah well. It cost 112 Yuan. It will be between a 6 and 8 hour journey.

I went back to the Muslim Noddle place and had breakfast It was cold but the sun was out and some of the ice and snow were melting.

I sarted walking up Paoma Shan mountain via the monastry. I was half way up (via steps) and realised it would be difficult to get back down. All the steps were covered with snow and ice and one slip, I would be half way down the mountain. I had pretty good views from where I was so I decided to head back down. Anyway, a British Tourist was murdered up here in 2000. I made by way down slowly.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kangding – Paoma Shan (30-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kangding – Paoma Shan – View of the town (30-12-2003)

I then walked to Nanwu Si. Its a very large and impressive looking especially in the snow. It has about 100 monks. There are about 6 large buildings on the site. The monks were just going to lunch when I arrived. The monastry is kept in their original layout with little modern influence or disturbance from tourists.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kangding – Nanwu Si (30-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kangding – Nanwu Si (30-12-2003)

After that I decided to re try Paoma Shan Mountain from another direction. You can get a cable car up there (new) for 40 Yuan return. I was going to do this when a guy with a horse asked me to go via a pathway for 30 Yuan return. As I have never been on a horse before (to my shame), I agreed.

If I had known such an easy path existed, I would have walked up. It took about 30 minutes to get up there. Te views were OK of the valleys but excellent of the western side of the town. I was up there for 25 minutes. It was empthy. The guide let me ride the horse most of the way ack diwn. I dont know. It felt quite natural to be on a horse. MAybe its mans DNA.

After that I had luch in a restaurant. It was chicken with spices, chillis, peanuts. It wsa good. After that I visitd the market which was full of Tibetans down to do some shopping.

I id little the rest of the evening. My hostel is full of Tibetean monks with mobile phones!!

Wednesday, December 31st, 2003 – Day 316

I was woken by the staff at 9.30am as they were clearing everyone out and cleaning the place. Then the electricity went off. I was going to stay in bed until noon as my bus is at 12.15pm. Anyway, in order to get in off the cold, I had two long breakfasts. They were both noodle based and very nice for a cld morning.

I had no difficulty finding the bus. Its a big hub and all were leaving at 12.15. There must have been 50 buses going to differerent destinations. My bus was nearly full. I was beside an army guide who sat straight and held his hat perfectly the whole time. There was a monk behind me who coughed all the time. SARS. HE was coughing his guts up. They showed some Hong Kong movies on the TV as well as the terrible Batman and Robin. The Hong Kong film called My name is nobody was quite good even thought no English translation was produced.

Anyway it was a full 7 hours before we got to Chengdu. After walking 10 minutes to my hostel, I choose to take a rickshaw there for 10 Yuan. Distances are larger here than the map in the Lonely Planet would dictate. A hostel called Dargon House is not in the Lonely Planet but I picked up a flier in Kumning. When I got there, it looked nice. I paid 55 Yuan for a single room.

Its down a narrow alleyway with lots of hole in the wall restaurants. I had a great little meal in one of them including a large meal. I thought they made a mistake when they gave me the bill. Six Yuan (.60 cent). Wow. I did see a rat in the restaurant but hell.

Ask a resident of Beijing or Sh?nghai what to do in S?chuan’s capital of Ch?ngdu, and nine times out of ten they’ll tell you to drink tea and eat hot pot, such is the city’s reputation as a culinary capital that knows how to take it easy. Indeed, Ch?ngdu’s cuisine is irresistible and tea drinking is a custom that took hold here 1,300 years ago and never let go. With few genuine ancient sights within the city proper (D? Fu’s cottage is only a replica; Wuh?u Temple is ho-hum), drinking tea may be Ch?ngdu’s most durable link to the past. But what Ch?ngdu lacks in ancient sites, it makes up for in charm and atmosphere. Like so many cities in central China, Ch?ngdu has a pretty little river running through it. The narrow Fu H? and its southern tributary form a sort of moat around the city, sections of which are lined with attractive restaurants and teahouses. The city is also in the midst of a building boom, but a few old ramshackle warrens and outdoor markets still survive just west of the city square.

Ch?ngdu is the gateway to scenic Jiuzh?i Gou, the Buddhist mountains of ?m?i Shan and L? Shan, and one of the most important panda breeding centers. It’s also a traveler’s haven and a place to gather information between trips. People are friendly and the pace unrushed. And because Ch?ngdu is one of the few cities with daily flights to Lhasa, many travelers come here to arrange transportation to Tibet.

I was going to buy a few beers for New Years in a shop but a guy who was buying a crate stopped me. HE says he was from the hostel and they were having a little party for New Years. I headed back with hime to a small room in the hostel. There were about 30 Chinese there and 4 foreigners. It did not take me long to get stuck into the beer. They had lined up a mike and some speakers and the Chinese wee lining up to see a song. Each one of them sang. They were all good singers and love to sing (karaoke anyone). There was a Tibetean monk staying as well and he sang a few mantras wishing all safe journeys. A JApanese guy did some breakdancing!! He was actually pretty good. This went on for a few hours. I spoke to a Dutch couple.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Chengdu – New Years Party at the Hostel (31-12-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kangding – Chenglish- Warning in the public buses warming you to buy a ricket or THROW YOUR DIBS IN!!!! (31-12-2003)

They were delighted to meet a foreigner as they have been teaching English in a small village for 2 months. She was 2 days over due and they hoped a baby was on the day. They had only known each other for a few months. They had alrady picked a a boys/girls name. They hadnt even told their parents yet. They would call the baby Tom if it was a boy.

Anyway, Chinese girls dont really drink beer and the guys were only having cup fulls. More for me. Most of the Chinese went to bed before midnight as New Years isnt really celebrated here. They ahve a day off tomorrow as its a National Holiday but Chinese New Year is on January 21st. They get a week off then and its known as the Spring Festival.

There were about 15 people left to count down to 12.00. It was all good fun but everyone was in bed by 1.00am.