Archive for the ‘Litang’ Category

Drive from Litang to Batang

Thursday, November 12th, 2015
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Today is 11 October, 2015. Last night we arrived at Daocheng (稻城) safe and sound, but in pretty low spirits, seeing through the hotel room windows it was snowing outside, wet and chilly. While dining at the canteen in our lodging hotel, one of the staff members told us that there had been a fairly big snow the day before and there would be more snow in the coming days. And this year’s weather was rather unusual, she added.

At the suggestion of her wife, Mr. Chen said that he would like to adjust our original plan, considering to postpone our visit of Yading Nature Reserve (亚丁风景区) for 15 October (Thursday), 2015. The weatherman said that it would snow on all three consecutive days which would make it difficult to hike the trails in Yading and enjoy the otherwise multi-colored mountains. Yes, we do have a general travel plan for our 20 some days self-drive trip. But we are not the sort of an overplanner who applies excessive schedule pressure. We are open to any ideas that would maximize our time.

Our final decision is to leave Daocheng today and go back to Litang ( 148 km 理塘) instead of Yading ( 亚丁); from Litang, we drive west along the National Highway G318 to Batang ( 177 km 巴塘), Zhubalong (35 km 竹巴笼), Mangkang in Tibet (75 km 芒康); then get off the National Highway No.318 at Mangkang and turn south along the National Highway No.214 and get to our today’ last destination – Feilaisi at Deqin (216 km  德钦飞来寺), a total driving length of 651 km for today.  In Feilaisi, we are scheduled to stay overnight and see Kawa Garbo Peak, or Kawagebo Peak (卡瓦格博峰) if luck follows us tomorrow.

Then we plan to go further south along the National Highway No.214 and get to Shangri-la (200 km ) where we are going to stay for two nights. After Shangri-la,  we will return to Daocheng ( 421 km 稻城) via Xiangcheng (乡城) on 14 October and visit Yading Nature Reserve on 15 October, 2015.

This is a loop trip with a total length of 1272 km from Daocheng and back to Daocheng. It is our first time to travel on the overland loop like this. We like to have our self-drive to to be the sort of off the cuff and we three are all delighted with our adjusted loop travel plan. Self-drive gives us much flexibility though we understand driving is stressful.

At 8:30 am, 11 October,2015, we leave the downtown of Daocheng (稻城). Daocheng is located at an altitude of 3700 meters. There seems not much to do in the town. It does offer a good stepping stone for coming either from Litang or Shangri-la in Yunnan and continuing their trip to Yading Nature Reserve. It turns out we come visit Daocheng Town totally for three times on our self-drive trip.

Daocheng

We leave the downtown of Daocheng

We retrace along the provincial road S217 from Daocheng to Litang, again a scenic drive with stunning views. We don’t stop on route due to the tight schedule with  a bucolic panorama fleeting by from both sides our vehicle of rolling hills, grazing yaks and Tibetan houses.

We get back to Litang Town around 11:30 am and take a picture of its West Gate, a huge symbolic west entrance to Litang Town, known as “World High Town”.

Litang West Gate

Litang West Gate

At Litang, we again get onto the National Highway G318 and turn west for our 177 km overland trip to Batang (巴塘).

Drive from Litang to Batang along G38

Drive from Litang to Batang along G38

Batang is the county in the west of Ganzi Tibet Autonomous Prefecture with its seat at Xiaqiong Town (夏邛镇). It borders with Mangkang (芒康) in Tibet on the west with their border line following the north-south Jinsha River (金沙江).  The road condition looks good, a wide and flat asphalt road.

G318 from Litang to Batang

G318 from Litang to Batang

It is a sightseeing drive from Litang to Batang. About 30 km out of Litang Town, we soon see the well-known Maoya Grassland (毛垭大草原), golden color in autumn unfurled before us. The tableland plains are hemmed in by the high mountains in four sides with a fall of over 1000 meters.

 Maoya Grassland

Maoya Grassland

Maoya Grassland is fed by the surrounding snow-capped mountains, though not as big as Hulunbuir Grassland and Xilingol grassland in Inner Mongolia, it has a unique dimensional beauty of being connected to green mountains, high snow-shrouded peaks, white clouds and azure sky.

Maoya Grassland is fed by the surrounding snow-capped mountains

Maoya Grassland is fed by the surrounding snow-capped mountains

At the west end of Maoya Grassland,  we find ourselves driving upwards, knowing we are approaching Haizi Mountain (海子山) with average elevation of 4500 meters. “Haizi” literally means”lakes”.

It is said that there are totally 1145 lakes in Haizi Mountain and its density of lakes is very much unique in China. When we are driving through Haizi Mountain, it is snowing with all the mountain areas on the top blanketed by white snow.

Haizi Mountain Pass

Haizi Mountain Pass at 4685 meters

Haizi Mountain Nature Reserve is a Sichuan provincial level reserve. The reserve has a lunar landscape without any trees and lakes, and even little bushes and wild grasses. All kinds of gravels and rocks and lakes are only what you can see here, the largest ancient ice relic on Qinghai-Tibet Plateaua, known as “Daocheng Ancient Ice Cap” 稻城海子山古冰帽.

Going over Haizi Mountain Pass, we see a viewing platform on the left side of the National Highway G318,  a good place to stop to grab a bite for our lunch. To our pleasant surprise, below the platform and in a distant, there are two mirror-like lakes known as the Haizi Mountain Sister Lakes (海子山姊妹湖) according to the roadside signboard. The two lakes sitting side by side, blue and limpid, are fed by the snow mountains.

Haizi Mountain Sister Lakes

Haizi Mountain Sister Lakes

The Haizi Mountain Sister Lakes are located in the middle way between Litang and Batang. Batang Town is still about 81 km west from the viewing platform. Batang is the county in the west of Ganzi Tibet Autonomous Prefecture with its seat at Xiaqiong Town (夏邛镇).

We get to the gas station by G318 in Xiaqiong Town ( the downtown area of Batang County ) around 3:30 pm. After a brief break at the filling station, we again start up our trip along G318 west for our next destination – Mangkang in Tibet (芒康).

Any questions on the drive from Litang to Batang, just drop a line.

Add-on:
Drive from Litang to Daocheng
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Chengdu tour

Drive from Litang to Daocheng

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
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At noon, 10 October, 2015, we grab some lunch at a raucous Sichuan restaurant in Litang Town (理塘). The roadside restaurant is swarm with dinners who are just like us, mostly using Litang as  a jump-off point to further go south ( Daocheng  稻城 or Yading), west ( Tibet ) or east ( Kangding or Chengdu ).

Drive from Litang to Daocheng

Drive from Litang to Daocheng

We understand that there are plenty to see and do around Litang itself at 4014 meters, one of the highest settlements in the world including Chode Gompa and hiking trails on the nearby mountains. It is also the birthplace of holy men including the Seventh and 10th Dalai Lamas.

The high altitude town can leave new arrivals vulnerable to altitude sickness and bad sunburn. We have hung around at 2000 – 4000 meters for almost 3 days, which has allowed us to acclimatize to the plateau environments. If taking a flight from Chengdu to Daocheng, people need a couple of days to acclimatise when they arrive.

Litang Town has one main street with a strip of joints, restaurants, stores and travel-related business outlets. The old part of the town is packed with identikit Tibetan houses with a backdrop of high mountains. Tourism has been growing fast here in the town. Eating at a restaurant is not cheap. There is much room for improvement both in terms of food and service here.

The Highway S217 runs from Litang 理塘 to Daocheng 稻城 (148km), which is further stretched to Yading (115km 亚丁). Tonight we are going to stay overnight in Daocheng.  S217 is a provincial level  highway which is said to have been built according to the Second-Class Highway Standard with speed limit at 60 km /h. The highway was completed on 24 September, 2014.

Litang - Daocheng S217

Litang – Daocheng S217

Though a dull overcast afternoon, we feel much lucky to drive along the newly built highway, a wide and flat asphalt road.  The 148km drive can be billed as “Sightseeing Drive” or “Scenic Drive”,  one of our highlight self-drive sections of the total length of 0ver 6000km we will cover eventually.  We are really amazed at the high quality highway, especially the 121 km long road from Litang to Sangdui (桑堆) , which is situated all above 4200-meter elevation.

Most of the 4200 meter elevation highway is still covered by white snow.  We even encounter snowing on the road over the valleys of the passing-by high mountains.

Tuershan Mountain

Rabbit Mountain (兔儿山) 4696 meters

When we go over Rabbit Mountain (兔儿山) at the elevation of 4696 meters, we slope down and gradually find the valley is covered with motley colours – yellow meadows, autumn leaves and green pine trees.

The valley is covered with motley colours

The valley is covered with motley colours

Grazing Yaks on the meadows at the foot of the undulating alpine mountains flanking the highway.

Grazing Yaks

Grazing Yaks

The vermilion Buddhist Monastery, the undulating mountains, yellow poplar trees and dry riverbeds, a picturesque view!

A breathless view!

A breathless view!

We stop and  park at the viewing platform,  an elevated sightseeing platform by the riverside of Wuliang River (无量河).

Wuliang River is one of the tributaries of Yalong River (Yalongjiang) with a total length of 516 km. The surrounding views leave us breathless.

Wuliang River

Views around Wuliang River

The expansive grassland is dotted with Tibetan houses at the foot of the undulating alpine mountains with yellow meadows.

Tibetan houses

Tibetan houses at the foot of the undulating alpine mountains

We are passing through Sangdui Town ( 桑堆镇), a  small town, about 28km north of Daocheng. Sangdui Town is located in a fork road – to Litang on the north; Daocheng on the south and Xiangcheng (乡城) on the west, which is connected to Shangri-la City in Yunnan Province.

Sangdui Town

We are passing through Sangdui Town

The Tibetan girl from Sangdui Town standing in rain.

The Tibetan girl from Sangdui Town

The Tibetan girl from Sangdui Town

Driving on for about 10 km south of Sangdui Town,  on our left side of the road we find the well-known scenic spot – “Red Grass Field”. It is a very special land grown with reddish grass,  surrounded by Tibetan houses and dotted with poplar trees, a spectacular photogenic spot.

Sangdui Red Grass Field

Sangdui Red Grass Field

We get to Daoheng (稻城) around 5:30 pm. There are plenty of hotel choices due to the shoulder season. It doesn’t take long before we locate a nice hotel with a decent price.

Any questions on the drive from Litang to Daocheng,  just drop a line.

Add-on:
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Chengdu tour

Drive from Yajiang to Litang

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
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The low elevation of Yajiang (雅江) did give us a good sleep last night. Early this morning, 10 October, 2015, we continue our self-drive west along the National Highway G318 from Yajiang (雅江) to Litang ( 理塘), where we are going to head south to get to our final destination today – Daocheng (稻城).

The 138 km drive from Yajiang to Litang reminds us of the overland from Kangding to Xinduqiao, where we have to ascend the high Zheduo Pass at 4290 meters; the journey from Xinduqiao to Yajiang, where we have to climb over the high pass of Gaoersi Pass at 4412 meters; now today here from Yajiang to Litang, we have to go over Kazila Pass (卡子拉山口) at the elevation of 4718 meters, the higheast pass on our trip so far.

Drive from Yajiang to Litang along G318

Drive from Yajiang to Litang along G318

It is again snowing due to the high elevation as we are driving up higher and higher from the low elevation of Yajiang to the high mountains on route, which all surpass 4000 meters. The golden and yellow meadows and autumn leaves, and green pine trees are covered with white snow. We drive meticulously along the switchback mountain roads and take  a break if necessary at the service stops run by the local Tibetans.

The switchback roads from Yajiang to Litang

The switchback roads from Yajiang to Litang

We take a break at the service stop on the way up to Kazila Pass.

Service Stop on the way from Yajiang to Litang

We take a break at the service stop on the way up to Kazila Pass.

At 10:30 am, we get onto the high Kazila Pass at the elevation of 4718 meters. People are snapping pictures of the huge rock sign indicating the name of the pass in Chinese – 卡子拉山口.

 Kazila Pass at the elevation of 4718 meters

Kazila Pass at the elevation of 4718 meters

Climbing over the pass,  we begin to go down and the highway condition is much better than we expect, wide and flat. On the way down to Litang Town, we also find a motorcyclist couple driving along the National Highway before us.

Motorcyclists driving along the National Highway G318

Motorcyclists driving along the National Highway G318

Going over the high Kazila Pass, we soon find the weather is getting better.  Snow stops and the mountains passing by turn multi-coloured with beautful valleys – grazing yaks, limpid streams and yellow meadows.

Litang beautful valleys

The mountains passing by turn multi-coloured with beautful valleys.

Litang Town (理塘) at the elevation of 4014 meters is the seat of Litang County, 400 meters higher than Lhasa, one of the hightest town in the world. “Litang” in Tibet literally means “Copper Mirror-like plateau” as it is located on the flat plateau with surrounding mountains. A cyclist is biking towards Litang Town.

 A cyclist is biking towards Litang Town

A cyclist is biking towards Litang Town

Litang Town is situated on the flat plateau surrounded with mountains. It is under the adminstration of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, on the west Sichuan Province. At Litang, we get off the National Highway G318 and turn south and drive along S217 to get to Daocheng.

Litang Town

Litang Town is situated on the flat plateau surrounded with mountains

Litang Town is an important base either for travelers going from Chengdu to Lhasa or to Daocheng. It is an old, but booming town with the coming of more and more travelers on their way to Daocheng or Lhasa. Hotels and restaurants are seen dotted here and there in the town. At 12:15 am, we stop for lunch in Litang before we start for Daocheng along the provincial highway known as S217, which later turns out to be a super highway with beautiful landscapes.

Lunch at Litang Town

Lunch at Litang Town

Any questions on the way from Yajiang to Litang, just drop a line.

Add-on:
Drive from Xinduqiao to Yajiang
Chengdu tour