Around 6:00pm, 11 October, 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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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