Sunday, November 27, 2016

Then and Now: Mekong 1928 and 2016

Today I was browsing  Joseph Rock's article "Through the Great River Trenches of Asia" when I came across a photo of a view that looked familiar from my most recent trip down the Mekong. In the National Geographic he has captioned the picture as "The Mekong river entering a narrow gorge near Yangtza". I checked my photos from my bus trip down from Deqin to Chaliding on the Mekong, and sure enough, one of the pics that I snapped from the bus window matches the one that Rock took.

When I took the photo it was about half an hour down the road from Deqin, just after the bus goes through a new tunnel.
I was on my way to check out the new road that is being built to connect the Mekong and Nujiang valleys, which starts at Chaliding and goes over to Dimaluo. Chaliding is little more than a bridge over the river with a couple of stores. It is a landmark because it is the embarkation point for Tibetan pilgrims setting off to walk the Kawakarpo Kora - the 10 days circuit of the holy mountains. This is the place where they do their last minute shopping for supplies before they start walking. It's all uphill from here!
And just for your information, the road over the mountain is not yet open, despite the official blue road sign indicating a turnoff to Gongshan. I tried without success to get a van or even a motorbike to take me over to the Nujing, but the locals said there were several sections of the road that were just clay and mud - meaning they needed to get off and push. They wouldn't take me. The Mekong-Nujiang road is said to open in early 2017.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Joseph Rock: the Leonard Cohen connection

I was just doing some research into George Johnston, the Australian journalist/novelist who visited Minya Konka in 1945 and gave a very different account (much more cynical and prosaic) to that of Rock's from a decade earlier. As I described here. Anyway, I came across this site which celebrates Johnston's later life as a bohemian in Europe and particularly his time on the Greek Island of Hydra, which he apparently shared with Cohen. The page tells a bit more about Johnston's visit to Kangding and Minya Konka, as related in his book Journey Through Tomorrow, but the beauty of it is an uncredited picture of Johnston with photographer James Burke on the Tsemi Pass, Minya Konka:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

More pics from the Shola Pass

From the western (Tibetan) side:

Monday, November 07, 2016

Pictures from my brief incursion into Tibet

My walk up the Shola from Meilishi near Deqin:

My 350 yuan a day guide.

Almost there ...

Made it, albeit not in the best of weather.

Huts on the Tibetan side of the pass