Archive for the ‘Batang’ Category

Drive from Batang to Mangkang

Friday, November 13th, 2015
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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

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

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.

Zhubalong Poliemen

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.

a speed limit ticket

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.

Zhulongba Mangkang Highway

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.

Batang Mangkang Road

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.

Batang Mangkang Road

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

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.


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.

Drive from Litang to Daocheng
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Chengdu tour