Archive for the ‘Deqin’ Category

Drive from Deqin to Shangri-la (Zhongdian)

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Walking down the rugged hill, tired, but we feel exhilarated with our lucky encounter with Kawagebo Peak. Back to our lodging hotel in Feilaisi around 11:15 am, 12 October,2015, we check out and upload our large pieces of luggage, handbags, tripods up to our Toyota Highlander SUV, ready to go to Shangri-la ( formerly Zhongdian ) along the National Highway G214 (Yunnan-Tibet Highway).

Feilaisi Hotel

We are ready to leave our lodging hotel in Feilaisi

Feilaisi is a temple-turned “town”,  dusty and scruffy with a few unpaved lanes swarm with inn and hotels cascading the hillside. Mrs Chen Ya proposes that we should visit Feilai Temple before we start our road trip along G214 to Shangri-la ( formerly Zhongdian ).

Mr.Chen drives his white horse down to the only paved main road and stops by the roadside above the temple.

The monastery is perched on the flat land by the hillside down below the main road facing Kawagebo Peak.

feilaisi

Feilai Temple perched on the hillside facing Kawagebo Peak

We walk down the stone steps and soon see Feilai Temple just vividly standing in front of us.  Originally built in 1614, the monastery is now devoted to the flying Buddha – Juewu Nanka Tashi and Kawagebo Peak.

Inside the temple, there is a monument titled “Sino-Japanese Joint Expedition Martyrdom” to remember the  17 warriors who were killed in the accident of avalanche on 04 Jan, 1991.

Flying temple

The temple is devoted to the flying Buddha – Juewu Nanka Tashi and Kawagebo Peak

We don’t go inside the temple, just have a look at its exterior and pray siliently in hearts and minds. Retracing the steps up to the roadside where our vehicle is parking,  we get on the vehicle and Mr. Chen starts the engine and slowly drives through the two-horse town.

Very soon we find our white horse running fast down south for our destination today – Shangri-la ( formerly Zhongdian ) along the National Highway G214.

Drive from Deqen to Shangri-la ( Zhongdian )

Drive from Deqin to Shangri-la ( Zhongdian )

The G214 (Yunnan-Tibet Highway ) from Deqin to Shangri-la is de facto a sightseeing avenue, which cuts through the intoxicating Baimang Snow Mountain ( also known as Baima Snow Mountain 白马雪山 ). Lying in the mid-section of Hengduan Mountain, Baima Snow Mountain runs from north to south with 20 peaks over 5000 meters and its highest peak at 5430 meters.

With a relative height of over 3000 meters, Baima Snow Mountai has varied landscapes and rich flora and fauna. Over 10 species of plants under State Protection  such as Circaeasteraceae (星叶草) and Pseudotsuga forrestii (澜沧黄杉) ; Over 30 species of animals under state protction include Dian Golden Moneys, Clouded Leopard and Red Panda. In 1988, Baima Snow Mountain National Nature Reserve was set up.

The G214 Highway runs almost parallel along the permanent snow-capped Baima Snow Mountain for about 100 km and ends at Benzilan Town (奔子栏镇).  Located almost midway between Deqin and Shangri-la, Benzilan Town breaks the road trip up nicely where most travelers would stop for lunch and relaxation. The undulating snow line resembles a galloping horse,  hence Baima Snow Mountain ( literally White Hore Snow Mountain ).

Autumn garnishes Baima Snow Mountain with a palette of colors on its relatively low elevation areas – red, yellow and green and as if you were immersed in multi-colored fairyland.  Just imagine you are driving along a galloping white snow horse and a long fluttering palette!

Now follow us to drive through the magical and stupendous National Highway G214 from Deqin to Shangri-la!

Wow the autumn sky is so blue and high! Under the canopy of the clear autumn sky,  we feel we are driving to the edge of the world, touching the white clouds and flying in the heaven.

The National Highway G214

We feel we are driving to the edge of the world.

The Highway G214 quietly snakes around the forested mountain slopes with colorful autumn hues and a backdrop of the undulating Baima Snow Mountain.

Yunan Tibet Highway

The Highway G214 quietly snakes around the forested mountain slopes

Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve is characteristic of the spatial structure of alpine trees with spectacular horizontal distribution patterns.  Subalpine coniferous forests are distributed at the altitude of 2300 – 3000m meters.

Autumn has turned the forests into a sea of colors, a token of the warm hospitality of the high mountains.

Baima Snow Mountain

Autumn has turned the forests into a sea of colors

We stop for several times on the way to view the multi-colored alpine trees as if the sky had accidentally kicked a huge bucket of paint into the forests.

Baima Snow Mountain Autumn Hues

The multi-colored alpine trees

The 20 snow peaks on Baima Snow Mountain Range escort us through the journey like a galloping horse in relay. We don’t know how many times we stop our vehicle to get a glimpse of the massive and sublime snow peaks.

Baimang Snow Mountain

The massive and sublime snow peak

I use my long-range camera to zoom in the distant summit of the high snow peaks over 5000-meter altitude, scree above the treeline, a sublime scene of rocky, barren and snowcapped mountain peaks.

Baima Snow Peak

A sublime scene of rocky, barren and snowcapped mountain peaks.

Baima Snow Mountain is characteristic of the spatial structure of alpine trees with spectacular horizontal distribution patterns – Subalpine fir, conifers and broadleaves,  alpine coniferous forests, meadows, treeline and scree.

Baima Mountain

Baima Snow Mountain is characteristic of the spatial structure of Plants

Around 4:00 pm, we drive through Benzilan Town lying on the west bank of Jinsha River, a border dividing line river with the east side of the river being Derong County in Sichuan. The town looks very basic and not different from the small Chinese towns. Many travelers would stop at Benzilan Town, a rest stop for lunch and relaxation. We don’t stop at the town for lunch since we eat some snacks we have bought in advance to save the time on route.

But seeing the valley of Jinsha River, bleak, imposing, amazing natural grandeur, Mrs Chen Ya requests her husband to stop for a while to enjoy the panorama of Jinsha River, a  major headwater of the Yangtze River.

Jinsha River

The valley of Jinsha River, bleak, imposing, amazing natural grandeur

Not far further down south, we spot a hamlet on the flat high land circled by the high mountains with a spectacular view. It should be a small Tibetan village.

a hamlet on the G214

A hamlet on the flat high land circled by the high mountains

The drive from Benzilan Town towards Shangri-la is a bit monotonous with Baima Snow Mountain leaving us. The mountains flanking the National Highway looks rocky and bleak. But this doesn’t last long.

While Mr. Chen is steadily driving his white horse, I see through the windshield using my long-rang camera, a sublime view of a glistering lake surrounded by the grassland. Mr. says this is Napa Lake Nature Reserve (纳帕海自然保护区), about 8 km northwest of Shangri-la city center.

Napa Lake Nature Reserve

Napa Lake Nature Reserve (纳帕海自然保护区), about 8 km northwest of Shangri-la city center.

Napa Lake Natural Reserve is the sort of wetland reserve, a tableland seasonal marsh lake. It has the largest grassland in Shangri-la. It is most well-known for its black-necked cranes coming here for winter.

It is a bucolic view – golden barley haystacks hanging on the drying racks with the expansive grassland and the lake.

Barley drying racks

Golden haystacks hanging on the drying racks with the expansive marsh grassland.

Through my side window, I spot some Tibetan farmers plowing a field using manual trucks with horses and sheeps grazing by the side of  golden barley drying racks.

Tibetan farmers

I spot some Tibetan farmers plowing a field

Before we enter the city of Shangri-la, we stop for a while at the viewing platform of Napa Lake on the roadside of the National Highway G214. The sun is setting with reddish reflection on the marsh lake.

Napa Lake

Napa Lake on the roadside of the National Highway G214.

Now back to our vehicle and we are ready to enter the city of Shangri-la, formerly known as Zhongdian. The name change is largely due to the local government’s desire to attract more mass tourists in the same manner of its nearby city of Lijiang.  Shangri-la is a fictional land described in his novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton in 1933.

Under the sun glow,  we slowly drive into the legendary city now officially named Shangri-la, a paradise on earth.

Shangri-la

We slowly drive into the legendary city of Shangri-la.

Any questions on the drive from Deqin to Shangri-la ( formerly Zhongdian),  just drop a line.

Add on:
Lijiang Yunnan Tour
Kawagarbo Viewed from Feilaisi
Drive from Mangkang to Deqin

Kawagarbo Viewed from Feilaisi

Monday, November 16th, 2015
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Feilaisi (or Feilai Temple), literally “Flying Temple”, is  an ideal place to view the east faces of the 13 peaks of the Prince Snow Mountain (太子雪山), also known as Meili Snow Mountain and Meili Jokul (梅里雪山).

Feilaisi (Feilai Temple 飞来寺) is a small Tibetan temple on the National Highway G214 dedicated to the spirits of Kawagarbo at 6740 meters (卡瓦博格峰), the highest peak in Meili Snow Mountain (Meili Jokul). About 2km outside the monastery there is a growing number of inns and hostels to meet the increasing demand of tourists who come here to view Kawagarbo.

Meili Jokul

Feilai Temple, Meili Jokul, National Highway G214, Lancangjiang ( Mekong ) and Deqin

Feilaisi is located above the Mekong valley (澜沧江河谷) at an altitude of 3300 meters, about 10 km to the southwest of Shengping (升平镇), the seat of Deqin County ( 德钦县). It has a geographical advantage to have a clear view of the east side of  Meili Snow Mountain Range which is bounded by the Salween River ( Nujiang 怒江 in Chinese) on the west and the Mekong (Lancangjiang 澜沧江 in Chinese) on the east. The snow mountain rises about 10 km west of Feilaisi.

Kawagarbo, or Kawagebo Peak 卡瓦格博峰 in Chinese, is the highest peak of the 13 peaks of the Prince Snow Mountain (太子雪山), also known as Meili Snow Mountain and Meili Jokul (梅里雪山), a small part of the much more extensive Hengduan Mountains (横断山脉), the major north-south complex of mountains lying along the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau in eastern Tibet.

Kawagebo Peak is often billed as the most beautiful snow mountain peak in the world. It is one of the most sacred peaks in the Tibetan world, the spiritual home of a warrior god of the same name.

Kawagebo Peak is still a virgin mountain though several attempts have been made in the past by the mountaineering teams from China, Japan, the US and the UK. They have all failed mainly due to the extremely complicated geographical conditions and incremental weather.

Kawagebo Peak climbing has also caused heavy protests from the local Tibetan community due to the mountain’s cultural and religious importance. On 3 January 1991, a nighttime avalanche killed all seventeen members of the Sino-Japanese expedition, one of the most disastrous mountaineering accidents in history.

In 2000, the local government passed relative laws banning all future climbing attempts on cultural and religious grounds.

At 6:30 am, 12 October, 2015, Mr.Chen and I are waked up by the alarm clock on our iphones. Jumping out of our beds, quickly putting on our clothes, we walk out of our rooms fast and up to the rooftop of our hotel with our tripods.

As expected, we could hardly see the peaks on Meili Snow Mountain Range which are covered with heavy dark white clouds. But we still put up our tripods, hoping magic will happen.

Around 7:50 am, suddenly appears a thin slit of clearing on Meilin Snow Mountain which allows us to have a peep of the white snow-capped peaks inside. I catch the momentary sight without delay.

Meili Snow Mountains

A peep of Meili Snow Mountain ( Meili Jokul )

 

Meili Snow Mountains

A slit of clearing on the snow mountain

Then in a few minutes the snow mountain again totally hides behind the heavy clouds. We decide to go down to the lobby restaurant for breakfast and wait for an opportunity to view Kawagebo Peak on the hotel rooftop viewing platform again.

Back to the rooftop platform after breakfast, we continue to wait for the clouds to disappear for a glimpse of the legendary Kawagebo Peak.  Around 8:40 am, the clouds are dispersing and thinning a little and we are able to see the dark forested mountains with the snow-shrouded peaks still hiding behind the clouds.

Kawagebo Peak

The snow-shrouded peaks still hiding behind the clouds.

Luckily, I have caught the image of Sinong Glacier ( 斯农冰川) below Cuguilaka Peak (粗归拉卡峰) at 5993 meters just north of Kawagebo Peak (卡瓦博格峰) at 6740 meters.

 Sinong Glacier ( 斯农冰川)

Sinong Glacier ( 斯农冰川)

Then again the whole Prince Snow Mountain ( Meili Snow Mountain ) is totally blanketed by clouds. We sadly go down stairs, back to our rooms, and ready to leave our hotel for our next destination Shangri-la.

Before we leave our rooftop platform, I see lots of people like us still standing on the rooftop platforms of many other hotels in Feilaisi, taking pictures and waiting for the best photogenic time to shoot.

Shooting Meilin Snow Mountain

Shooting Meilin Snow Mountain

While checking out at the hotel front desk in the lobby, we have a small talk with Mr. White Horse, the hotel manager. Feeling our disappointment at the bad luck of being unable to see Kawagebo Peak, he is very empathetic. He consoles us by saying that later this morning Kawagebo Peak will appear before us due to our sincerity driving over 600 km from Daocheng.

He continues to say that he can guide us to a hill nearby to have a panoramic view of Kawagebo Peak and the Prince Snow Mountain as the whole. We are all overjoyed at the proposal, deeply moved by Mr.White Horse’ kindness and integrity. Temporarily restoring our luggage behind the frong desk, we happily follow him, bombarding him with  questions about Kawagebo Peak.

He says it is every rare to have the chance to see Kawagebo Peak in the sunrise golden light. The  best time to view Kawagebo Peak is from October through May. July and August are the rainy season with the least possibility to see the Prince Snow Mountain (Meili Snow Mountain or Meili Jokul).

The forested hill he is taking us is quite steep, with an unpaved path leading to a rugged hilltop.  On the way up, Ms. Chen Ya gets breathless, scrambling after Mr. White Horse. He stops and turns around, taking away her camera to reduce her load and grasping her by her arm, steadily balancing her hike up to the hilltop.

The 20-minute hike brings us to the rugged summit of the hill. He asks us to take a break and wait for the dispersion of clouds. I look around, and find the hill is surrounded by mountains in almost four sides, a very good natural viewing platform to see Meili Snow Mountain on the west, Baima Snow Mountain on the east and south with Feilaisi ( the area for hotels and hostels ) below the hill on the south.

As Mr. White Horse predicts, the sky is getting brighter and bluer, and grey clouds are turning into white clouds. The white clouds circling the snow capped-peaks on Meili Snow Mountain are slowing moving away. At last, Kawagebo Peak appears!

Kawagebo Peak

Kawagebo Peak appears!

On the north of Kawagebo Peak at 6740 meters is the Cuguilaka Peak (粗归拉卡峰) at 5993 meters standing elegantly with white clouds circling below.

Cuguilaka Peak

Cuguilaka Peak (粗归拉卡峰) at 5993 meters

I change my standing position and point my camera to the east of our hill. The peaks of the Baima Snow Mountain are still shrouded by white clouds. At the foot of the white clouds-capped peaks is Feilaisi Village, picturesque and bucolic.

Feilaisi

Feilaisi Village at the foot of the snow and white clouds capped peaks of Baima Snow Mountain.

 

Feilaisi Village

A  zoom-in picture of Feilaisi Village, Picturesque and Bucolic

Maybe the charm of Meili Snow Mountain lies in the ever-changing clouds which make it difficult to see its true face. The changing clouds also constitute countless views of the snow mountain, the main reason to draw a consistent flow of common tourists all year around.

Before we leave the hilltop,  I take quite a few pictures of the changing Kawagebo Peak and much delighted to share some of them.

The Beautiful Kawagebo Peak

The Beautiful Kawagebo Peak

 

Clouds are closing in on Kawagebo Peak

Clouds are closing in on Kawagebo Peak

 

Kawagebo Peak shy

Kawagebo Peak shy hiding behind the clouds

Any questions on viewing Kawagebo Peak from Feilaisi, just drop a line.

Add on:
Lijiang Yunnan Tour
Drive from Mangkang to Feilaisi
Drive from Feilaisi to Shangri-la

Drive from Mangkang to Deqin

Saturday, November 14th, 2015
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Around 6:00pm,  11 October,2015, we leave the first checkpoint in the downtown of Mangkang, or Markam (芒康),  then branch off National Highway G318 and enter National Highway G214 for the 216 km drive from Mangkang to Feilaisi, Deqin in (德钦飞来寺) on the south. The Highway G214 is 3256 km long starting from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province to Jinghong, Yunnan Province.

Drive from Mangkang to Deqin

Drive from Mangkang (Markam) to Deqin

The previous speed limit for the drive from Batang to Mangkang has to some extent delayed our arrival at Feilaisi, Deqin. So we are going to catch up with the time within the maximum speed permitted by law. We are driving fast along the paved road on the valley flanked by the high mountains over 3000 meters altitude.

Mangkang to Feilaisi

We are driving along the paved road on the high mountains

The sun is setting, casting its dwindling glare on the snow-capped mountains on our left side ( east side ), a mixed landscape of snow-shrouded mountains, colored poplar trees, primeval Tibetan houses. We cannot resist stopping at two photogenic areas for photography.

Kangkang Deqin

The picturesque view along the National Highway G214

The National Highway G214 is one of the most beautiful highways in China. Unlike the hyped G318, G214 is quite unknown to the public though it has stunning views with its varied landscapses. G214 connects the headwaters of Yangtze River, Yellow River, Lancang River and Honghe River.

National Highway G214

The golden mountaintop

The Highway G214 cuts through the rugged terrains like Bayan Har Mountains, the Hengduan Mountains and more. It is also bestowed with the massive snow mountains like Hongla Snow Mountain, Meili Snow Mountain, Haba Snow Mountain and more.

The National Highway 214

The Beautiful View along the Highway G214

When we reach the Hongla Mountain Pass (红拉山口) at 4200 meters evelation,  it is completely dark  with ever thickening dense fog. Mr. Chen has to drive gingerly forward with almost zero visibility despite of the hardworking headlights. We haven’t had such challenging experience before driving on a rugged mountaind road shrouded in a heavy fog on a pitch-dark night.

Mr. Chen skilfully controls his Toyota Highlander SUV, nearly blindfold going over Hong La Mountain Pass and arriving at Yanjing Town (盐井) under the administration of Mangkang, Tibet , the last outpost which connects Deqin or Deqen (德钦), Yunnan on the south .

We get to Feilaisi, Deqin or Deqen (德钦飞来寺) around midnight and check in a hotel known as 德钦云之南车盟酒店(Tel: 0887 – 8566588 ) which we have booked online on route. The moment we enter the hotel, we are warmly welcomed and each of us receives a Hada ( a long piece of white silk), which embodies purity and loyalty,  a traditional practice in Tibet to show respect and hospitality.

Feilaisi ( Fyling Temple ), 10 km north of the downtown of Deqin (德钦), has developed from the small Flying Temple. Now in this area there is a growing number of hostels and guest houses. Many travelers choose to stay here in order to see Kawa Garbo Peak (卡瓦格博峰) and Meili Snow Mountain (梅里雪山).

The hotel manager, a Tibetan, named 白马”Bai Ma”, literally “White Horse”, is very kind and hospitable, going far out of his way to give us plenty of information on Kawa Garbo Peak (卡瓦格博峰) and Meili Snow Mountain (梅里雪山). “There is a viewing platform on the top of the 4th floor where you are able to have a panoramic view of Kawa Garbo Peak”, he added.

We go up to our hotel rooms on the third floor with heavy hearts because we all know tomorrow will be overcast with little possibility to see Kawa Garbo Peak, less than in golden sunrise light.

Getting our tripods ready, Mr. Chen and I still set alarm clock on iphone around 6:30 am since sunrise time for tomorrow is around 7:00am. We hope good luck will follow us tomorrow.

Any questions about the drive from Mangkang to Feilaisi (Deqin), just drop a line.

Add-on:
Lijiang Yunnan Tour
Drive from Batang to Mangkang
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Deqin to Shangri-la