The road to Kangding, Litang and Yunnan
If there is one road spectacular it's the road from Chengdu to Kangding and Litang. This I have done late in the season. My first idea was to cycle it all the way to Litang and then to Yunnan. It But as it was really cold, I decided to make a loop Chengdu-Danba-Barkam-Chengdu before getting in the bus to Litang. It was a good choice. Here's the story about Danba and Barkam but we are going deep into West Sichuan, on the way to Kangding and Litang
When I arrived at the junction Danba straight, Kangding Litang left, I chatted a bit with some people here. They told me the road was already partly under snow. I would be better off to make the journey to Danba and Barkam and turn back to Chengdu.
As I had time on my hands, it didn't matter. Little did I know a few days after I passed the junction a large part of the road was impossible to pass for a few days. The journey continued to Danba, then followed to Barkam in freezing rain, climbing up to an almost 4500 meter pass before going back to Chengdu.
I did however go back, by bus. It was a magnificent journey even though Kangding was disappointing. The scenery on the way was however spectacular. Even though Kangding itself was very disappointing.
On the way to Kangding is was watercold, there was snow, though a little melting. Still, the views were beautiful. The closer Litang came, the more Tibetan the villages became.
Litang turned out to be the place to be. It had everything of a Tibetan town, the main street, the way the houses where build and, of course, the people.
When being there I witness a wedding although I couldn't come close enough to make photos. But I wasn't the only one:
It had been raining in Kangding, but here it was higher altitude and the skies were clear. As I had just come from Tibet (flying from Lhasa to Chengdu), my intentions were to travel south to Yunnan. However, at this time in the year there was no bus or at least, there was no regular bus. I found however a landrover willing to bring me to Xiangcheng.
Seldom I had more desire to cycle then right now. But I knew it would be a bad thing to do considering the road situation and the lack of villages. It was during this journey I felt I was on the roof of the world despite that Tibet had been at an even higher altitude.
There was no traffic at this time of the year. Apparently it was too cold (minus 5C) for people to travel south.
I had some trouble to get a room in Xiangcheng but finally after some questioning, I found a very nice little hotel, apparently the only one left open in December.
The next day I continued to Zhongdian (now called Shangri-La). The driver dropped me a few km out of town as he didn't want to be seen with a lao-wai. At the time it was still illegal for travelers to take this road.
So I walked into the town. I did it, I made it, despite the bad time of the year. It had been cold, too cold for me to stay in a tent on the way. But I had seen what I wanted to see. But now I was ready for some warmer weather. That however should have to wait until after new year as I had planned to stay in Lijiang for Christmas and Y2K celebrations.
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Chengdu to Yunnan
Although most travelers dismiss this route, it's a pleasant and very beautiful road leading from Chengdu to Yanjin and Zhaotong to Sonming and Kunming.
Chengdu - Danba - Barkam - Chengdu
An interesting loop of 13 days cycling which I did in September. It was a little cold, especially around Barkam but worth the effort.
Map of Sichuan
Bicycling in Sichuan
Sichuan is one of the most spectacular areas in China. Apart of the well known traveled routes, there are other gems to find.