Around 3:45 pm after a brief break at the filling station in Batang (巴塘), we again start up our trip along G318 west for our next destination – Mangkang (芒康 ) in Tibet. Mangkang is also known as Markham or Karkam in Tibet, a county under the administration of Qamdo City (昌都) in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Mangkang is located amid the border areas of the three provinces including Sichuan, Tibet and Yunnan. It is adjacent to Batang County in Sichuan on the east and Deqin County in Yunnan on the south. Both the National Highway G318 and G214 run through Mangkang County. It is an important stepping stone to enter the three connected provinces.
It is a 110 km drive from Batang to Mangkang (Karkam). The first 35km drive is easy and uneventful when we pass through Zhubalong Township ( 竹巴龙乡) which is the west tip of Batang County along G318. Zhubalong Township in Batang abuts Zhubalong Township (朱巴龙乡), the east tip of Mangkang (Karkam). The two townships have the same Chinese pinyin ( romanization of Chinese), but with different Chinese characters.
Drive from Batang to Mangkang
Passing through Zhubalong Township in Batang, we soon go across Jinsha River Bridge (金沙江大桥) which divides the two townships – Zhubalong Township ( 竹巴龙乡) in Batang and Zhubalong Township (朱巴龙乡) in Mangkang (Karkam).
Jinshan River (金沙江) is largely the dividing borderline between Sichuan and Tibet. We stop at the middle of Jinsha River Bridge, straddling the the two provinces ( Sichuan and Tibet ) while snapping a photo of the borderline sign attached to the bridge cememt handrail.
Tibet Borderline Sign standing in the middle of Jinsha River Bridge
Driving across Jinsha River Bridge (金沙江大桥), we run into the area of Zhubalong Township (朱巴龙乡) in Mangkang (Karkam), Tibet. Soon we have to stop at the security checkpoint set up by the local Zhubalong Public Security Bureau.
Mr.Chen and I leave our vehicle in the waiting line and go out to the roadside office windows, taking all the personal travel documents with us – ID card, or passport and driving licences and the vehicle certificate. We see policemen with their weapon resting lazily slung over their shoulders.
Policemen with their weapon resting lazily slung over their shoulders
At the checkpoint, we are offered a speed limit ticket which requests us to drive within two hours to cover the 71 km distance ahead between Zhubalong Township and the downtown of Mangkang. So we have to limit our drive within 2 hours before we get to Mangkang, just 75km away.
We much keep the ticket till the policemen at the checkpoint in Mangkang collect and check it. Why two hours for the 75 km? So slow, like a slow moving snail. The ticket says the road ahead is full of risks with possible falling stones and the fact that some sections are in the state of disrepair.
Zhubalong – Mangkang speed limit ticket
The 71-km G318 Highway from Zhubalong Township to the downtown of Mangkang has complicated geographical conditions. The road is often collapsed in rainy season. The roadside river sometimes encroaches the road. In some areas, the road sinks, bumpy and muddy.
The most dangerous thing is the falling stones, blocking the road with a potential risk of harming the people on the way. On route, for several times we have to stop and clear the fallen stones on the road ahead. Sometimes we have to gingerly drive along the cliff swept with the scree.
Clear the fallen stones on the road ahead
The road clings to the sheer cliffs, often with turns and curves, and we have to drive slowly and carefully to avoid colliding with coming vehicles.
The road clings to the sheer cliffs
Some sections of the highway are just in a state of disrepair, muddy, rutted and without any handrails.
Some sections of the highway are just in a state of disrepair
Two hours late, around 5:50 pm, we get to the No.01 Checkpoint in the downtown of Mangkang (Karkam). We again have to stop and have our personal ID cards checked and then continue our trip, and this time we get off the National Highway G318 and turn south and drive along the National Highway G214.
The sun is setting and we have to hurry up to catch the time lost on the speed limit road just passed.
Any questions on the drive from Batang to Mangkang, just drop a line.
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Mangkang to Deqin