Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Pumi man at Diwan

Red jacket at Diwan, originally uploaded by jiulong.

On the way to the Yalong canyon.

Watchers on the road to Sanyanlong

These were the people who were rolling boulders down onto the road as we passed along the way to Sanyanlong. In Joseph Rock's day they would have been bandits.

Clearing boulders off road - near Sanyanlong.

Clearing boulders off road, originally uploaded by jiulong.

These boulders were rolled down onto the road by local Pumi people to try smash them up to use as building material.

By Landcruiser down the Yangwe Kong

Landcruiser down Yangwe Kong, originally uploaded by jiulong.

Rough road in the Yangwe Kong

Landcruiser bumps, originally uploaded by jiulong.

There were many landslips along the way.

The Sanyanlong road
The road got a bit easier [relatively speaking] further down the valley.


Diwan, originally uploaded by jiulong.

This village is at the eastern end of the Yangwe kong valley, a half day's drive from Jiulong in Sichuan.

View down to Diwan

View down to Diwan, originally uploaded by jiulong.

The view from the Druderon Pass to Diwan

Druderon to Diwan, originally uploaded by jiulong.

Diwan - or Deon as Rock called it - was the last village before the pass. In the distance you can see the hills that we would have to cross to get to the Yalong river canyon.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Hsifan [Pumi] women, 1929

hsifan women, originally uploaded by sydneyphoto.

As photographed by Joseph Rock.

Pumi men of the Yangwe Kong valley

yak jacket, originally uploaded by mutikonka.

The one on the left is wearing a traditional yak hair spun jacket.

The road from Jiulong to Sanyanlong

landcruiser, originally uploaded by mutikonka.

A whole day of this. Bumpy. This is the Yangwe Kong valley, very remote, beyond the Kangwo Shan pass. Most people are Pumi.

Druderon pass lads
Wang Qi, me and our driver, near the Druderon Pass [Kanwo Shan].

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Druderon Pass [Kangwo Shan] from the western side

This was another mountain pass that Joseph Rock had crossed with great difficulty on his month-long journey from near Lijiang to Minya Konka:

“We had already been informed at Deon Gomba, a tiny monastery recently looted by the Konkaling bandits, that the Druderon although not high, was snowed in and hence impassable. With an exhausted caravan it seemed hopeless …” he wrote.

“The following morning when I looked out of my tent and beheld our camp almost buried and our animals shivering in the cold, I really feared for the shelterless men who had stayed behind with the exhausted mules. I also feared for the two of our soldiers who had braved the pass the evening before. They were to go to [Jiulong] to bring us yaks, which could plough a trail through the deep snow and help us across. The snowstorm continued for a short time; then the sun appeared. This was the last day of April, 1929.”

Again, we were lucky to have clear weather and a good driver for our crossing of the Druderon Pass.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Kangwo Shan

Kangwo Shan, originally uploaded by mutikonka.

"Zou Ba!" (Let's Go!) were the words of Wang Qi on a bright
Monday morning. True to his word, there was a Landcruiser parked
outside the hotel, loaded with supplies for a family visit. Also
crammed inside the car were his wife Pema and his 20 year old
daughter Namu, a medical student in Chengdu. She had died bronze hair
and a face like a serene Tibetan Buddha, and she relentlessly teased
her father as we set off up the road to the Yangwe Kong valley.
"A-ba - will they have a horse big enough to carry you up the
hill" she sniggered. Later on she hummed songs and practised
counting up to a hundred in the local Tibetan dialect:
"Dali, Nali, Songli ..."

It didn't seem like we were setting off on an expedition to find a
lost mountain.
"Have you got my handbag? asked Pema in the back. "I've got
something special for Aunty Mera in it"

The road followed the familiar dirt track that went up to Wuxu Hai at
first, but then split off to the west up a much rougher track. As we
ascended up to what Joseph Rock called the Druderon Pass I clung on
tightly to the handles inside the car, but still could not avoid
being bumped and bruised as the Landcruiser rocked and bounced
There was little to see in the valley - fir trees and some old water
races diverted to turn water wheels in little shacks tht were use to
grind corn. But no sign of human habitation.

Then we neared the pass and rose above the tree line, the landscape
could have been Scotland - brown moorland and an alpine tarn - and
the imposing bulk of a grey limestone peak which Wang Qi told me was
called Kangwo Shan.

Druderon pass [Kangwo Shan]

Druderon pass [Kangwo Shan], originally uploaded by jiulong.

Our car at the Druderon Pass [Kangwo Shan]

Looking back to the north east where we have just driven up from all morning from Jiulong.

4WD at Druderon Pass, Kangwu Shan

4WD at Druderon Pass, originally uploaded by jiulong.

View from Kangwu Pass near Jiulong

Kangwu Pass near Jiulong, originally uploaded by jiulong.

Driving up the Druderon Pass

Driving up the Druderon Pass, originally uploaded by jiulong.

From Jiulong up to the Druderon Pass [Kangwo Shan] you must go up a long uninhabited pine forested valley. The road is very rough and only passable for 4WD.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Maidi Gangga (Mt Muti Konka)

Maidi Gangga (Mt Muti Konka), originally uploaded by jiulong.

Apologies for poor picture quality - scan of a badly underexposed slide that has been Photoshop enhanced. Some better pics to come of thie beautiful and unvisited peak, near Jiulong. Joseph Rock was here in 1925 - but never took any pictures. I wonder why not?

Mt Muti Konka: our first glimpse

Mt Muti Konka: our first glimpse, originally uploaded by jiulong.

Will tell you more later. Just to say that no outsiders have seen this mountain since Joseph Rock visited in 1925. I took some terribly underexposed photos with slide film that I have tried to correct using Photoshop. This is the result. I have some much better print images that I will scan soon.

Another Tibetan house

tibetan house, originally uploaded by jiulong.

This pic was taken out of the window of the bus ont he way to Jiulong, somewhere south of Xinduqiao. It's a scan from a slide, hence the not-so-great quality.

I have a load more photos to add tothis blog of my most recent visit to Jiulong and the mountain called Muti Konka. But I have to wait until my article is publsihed first in a certain Geographical magazine: can't break their embargo.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Zheduo Shan (折多山) cairn

Zheduo La cairn, originally uploaded by jiulong.

From Kangding the bus grinds up to 4300 metres, eventually reaching the high plains of Tibet. Here is the Zheduo Pass, on which Tibetans heap prayer flags.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Tibetan and Chinese house styles

Tibetan house near Xinduqiao, originally uploaded by jiulong.

As seen on the road from Kangding to Jiulong. This was at the Xinduqiao truck stop near the turnoff south for Jiulong. Compare it to a Han Chinese house further down the same road [near Kangding]. An interesting cultural divide:

Old Han house

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Pumi family near Muli

Pumi family, originally uploaded by jiulong.

A bit off topic this ... but the next few pictures are some nice scenes of Pumi people's lives taken in the 1980s by Shanghai photographer Shen Che, in a village called Lazi near Lugu Lake. The connection with Joseph Rock is that the Pumi are one of the most common "minority nationalities" around Muli.

These pictures come from Shen Che's excellent book Life Among the Minority Nationalities of NW Yunnan".

The Pumi people of Yak Hill, near Lugu Lake

The Pumi people of NW Yunnan, originally uploaded by jiulong.

Rack for drying corn and hay

hayrack, originally uploaded by jiulong.

These drying racks are a common sight around Muli.

Sauteed songrong mushroom for a snack

Pumi fireside, originally uploaded by jiulong.

Pumi women eat these prized fungi with sauce and a little salt after roasting over their fire.

Pumi women in 1984 and 1927

Pumi grinding flour, originally uploaded by jiulong.

Pumi woman with infant, 1924
The same colours are evident in this photo of a woman in the same area in 1927.

Pumi culture: offerings

Pumi culture: offerings, originally uploaded by jiulong.

Observing the feast of the mountain deities, Pumi families load their altars with food, wine, salted pork, salt and flowers - Shen Che.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Huofo: a Living Buddha in Gansu province, 1927

This is the six year old Living Buddha of Guya near Choni [Jone] in Gansu. Photographed by Joseph Rock in 1927.

Tibetan vulture

Tibetan vulture, originally uploaded by jiulong.

Hunters with a bearded vulture near Lake Kokonor, Qinghai. By Joseph Rock, 1928.

Map of how to get to Jiulong and the Yalong canyon in Sichuan

There's a better map than this at www.chinabackpacker.com

Tibetan roadside house

Tibetan roadside house, originally uploaded by jiulong.

As seen on the way to Jiulong.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The road to the roof of the world: from China to Tibet.

Zheduo Shan, originally uploaded by jiulong.

This is Zheduo Shan, the 4200 metre pass between Kangding and Litang. Below, where the cloud is, lies Kangding and beyond it the plains of Sichuan. So this, in effect is where the eastern Himalayas give way to the lowlands of China. From here on it is the highlands of Tibet. I took this picture on the way from Kangding to Jiulong.

Jiulong in Sichuan

Jiulong in Sichuan, originally uploaded by jiulong.

This was the starting point for my trek to the Yalong canyon. It's a day's drive south of Kangding. When Joseph Rock visited Chiulong, as he called it, it was just a collection of houses overseen by a drunken Chinese magistrate.

Tibetan, Yi and Pumi women in Jiulong

Jiulong ladies, originally uploaded by jiulong.

In Jiulong there are many "minorities". Most are Yi people, but there are also substantial numbers of Tibetans and Pumi people. here you can see the local social club gathered on the steps of some of the high street shops.