Archive for the ‘Chengdu Travel’ Category

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 highest 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 beautiful 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 highest 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 administration 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

Night View of Kangding

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015
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Often regarded as where Tibet really begins, Kangding (康定) is the capital of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. In 2015, Kangding is upgraded from a county level to a prefecture city, which encompasses 6 towns and 15 townships and over 200 villages. Lucheng Town (炉城镇) is the city proper ( the downtown area ) of Kangding. Lucheng Town is the seat of both Kangding City and Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture .

Kangding ( also known in Tibet as Dartsendo or Dardo ) is set in a deep valley at the confluence of the raging Zheduo River River ( 折多河 ) and Yala River (雅拉河). It is located about 133 km to the northwest of Moxi Town, 49km west of Luding County and 360 km west of Chengdu. Kangding was once the hub for horse and tea trading along the Tea and Horse Route between Sichuan and Lhasa.  For centuries, Kangding has been the exchange center of Han and Tibetan cultures. It is also a gateway to Tibet in the west from Chengdu.

For many Chinese, Kangding’ popularity comes from the themed love song “Kangding Love Song”. Travelers would be attracted by its alluring vicinity covering snow mountains, glaciers, alpine meadows, sweeping grasslands and monasteries. Of course, the biggest draw is its unique Khampa cultures such as Guozhuang (康巴锅庄文化).

Well,  back to our self-drive trip, on October 08, 2015, we leave Moxi Town at 3:30 pm for Kangding where we are going to stay overnight. At 5:00pm, we pass by the downtown of Luding County. We stop for about 10 minutes for a glimpse of the legendary Luding Iron-Chain Bridge (泸定桥) that spans the Dadu River in Luding County.

The bridge dates back to Qing Dynasty, originally built 1705 and completed in 1706. In 1935, the soldiers of the Fourth Regiment of Red Army seized the bridge as a river crossing vital to the Red Army’s retreat during the Long March.  The bridge is 103.67 meters long, and 3 meters wide. 13 heavy iron chains are stretched across the river and lashed with thick boards.

Luding Iron-Chain Bridge

The legendary Luding Iron-Chain Bridge

Further driving from Luding along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway known as G318, we get to the downtown of Kangding at about 7:00pm. The bright lit streets and modern buildings really gives us a shock! Is this Kangding? It looks so developed and prosperous! A world difference from the Kangding in our minds! Below is the picture I snap of the street using my iphone sitting in our vehicle while looking for a hotel for tonight.

Kangding City

The bright lit streets and modern buildings in Kangding

It is not a tourist high season. We soon find a very nice hotel on the busy street in Kangding with quite reasonable roomrates. After dinner, I urge Mr.Chen to take our cameras and shoot the night views of Kangding City. It is drizzling outside and this doesn’t deter us from going onto the streets for enjoying the beautiful night of Kangding.

The torrential Zheduo River River ( 折多河 ) runs through the downtown of Kangding from the southwest to the northeast and enters Dadu River eventually.

Zheduo River River

Zheduo River River runs through the downtown of Kangding

Zheduo River is sandwiched by high and modern buildings – banks, office buildings, department stores…

Zheduo River

Zheduo River is sandwiched by high and modern buildings

A  collection of modern concrete buildings in Tibetan style by the raging river.

uildings in Tibetan style Kangding

The concrete buildings in Tibetan style

A huge commercial building (like SOHO) packed with numerous offices, stores, restaurants and more.

A huge commercial building (like SOHO)

A huge commercial building (like SOHO)

Tonight’s rain prettifies the city with the reflection and refraction of the street lights.

Kangding Night

The reflection and refraction of the street lights in Kngding

The wide street roads flank the raging Zheduo River with the charming reflection and refraction of the street lights.

Zheduo River and Streets in Kangding

The wide street roads flank the raging Zheduo River

Any questions, just drop a line.

Add-on:
Drive from Kangding to Xinduqiao
Chengdu tour