Thursday, October 22, 2015

More Google Earth then-and-now comparisons: Kangding

Yulin, near Kangding, 2002 (top) and 2014 (below)

When I did the trek to Gongga Shan (Minya Konka) in about 1996 the starting point was small village outside of Kangding called Yulin. It was just a few farm buildings along a dirt track about 5km out of town, in a narrow valley. I found a friendly local Tibetan called GerLer who was willing to guide me on the four day round trip to the Konka Gompa monastery.

Yulin was a quiet place with just a few Tibetan stone buildings and some strips of arable land next to a river rushing down from the Minya Konka range. There was a hot spring which had a baths built into a small brick building. That was about it. You can read about my adventures here.

I tried to find the village of Yulin again about three years ago but it had been completely overbuilt with what is now the New Town area of Kangding. It had literally been obliterated. In its place was an array of concrete civic buildings such as Law Courts and local administration buildings, in the usual Chinese government megalomaniac style. You can see in the top photo from Google Earth how the development has spread right up the valley, over what used to be rustic farmland and grazing land.


There was also a huge triple block of 12 storey  condominiums. you can see them in the Google Earth pic, but they don't look as tall on that as they are in real life. The Tibetan farmhouses and fields of old Yulin has just been swept away under roads and concrete. I didn't stick around and I didn't take any photos of the New Yulin. It was ugly.

I'll leave you with a picture of Yulin (looking back towards Kangding) from 1996, before the bulldozers moved in:

2 comments:

John Holmes said...

Joni Mitchell hit the nail on the head with "Big Yellow Taxi"....

Michael Woodhead said...

Similar thing has happened in Deqin - a whole new town has been built at the bottom of the valley. In China you don't have to be an old man to says "It used to be all fields around here!"