Sunday, August 08, 2021

Return trip to Muli - an armchair traveller visit via bilibili videos

 


As described on this blog, almost 30 years ago I did one of my first trips in Rock's footsteps to Muli monastery. Back in the 1990s there was no proper road from Lugu Lake to Muli - hell there wasn't even a map! I took a chance an followed Rock's map and found the trail was still as he described it. Much of it was dirt track and sometimes just a faint trail through the fields. I tramped over the mountains and through the forests via Yongning, Hot Springs (Wenquan), Wujiao and then up over the mountain pass and down into the Muli vally. It took me three days. Saw very few people en route, just a few wild Tibetan and Naxi locals.

Well now you can do the same trip in a few hours on a good road - as this guy shows in his video of a motorbike trip from Lugu Lake to Muli monastery. The route is much the same but now there are multiple police/militia checkpoints [to check for cigarettes or any fire-related materials - they had catastrophic forest fires in Muli]. There's also a few tourist scenic viewing points installed at places such as the Gibboh Mountain pass - in contrast to the bleak place we paused at. The biggest change of course is Muli monastery. Now a very opulent and grandiose series of buildings, not the dilapidated single building we found (it's still there but now massively overshadowed by the big monastery buildings). 

So I don't think I'll be returning to Muli. But I would still like to visit the other more remote monasteries that Rock described in the area - Kangpu and Waerdje - at some point. 


Monday, March 22, 2021

Next destination on the list ... Jiaying (甲应村)


Having viewed the magnificant Kawakarpo (Mt Meili) from the east like most people, I've always been curious to see what it's western face would be like. A look on Google Maps suggested it would be possible to get views of the west face and its glaciers from a tiny hamlet called Jiaying (type in 甲应村 to search), accessible by a rough track from Chawalong. It was next on my list of place to explore, but it looks like the village has  now had an upgraded road put in and is receiving a increasing stream of visitors arriving by 4WD and motrobike. 

With just a handful of Tibetan houses, I bet the locals are now a bit jaded by the attention they are getting from outsiders. But I suppose tourism and homestays are being promoted by the Nujiang government as part of poverty alleviation, so good luck to them.  Wish I'd got to see it before the pandemic ...

Here's one of the many videos now popping up on Bilibili.

Here's another. Some very slick outdoors lifestyle productions going on here. 


And this one gives you a full view of the epic exposed road track along and over the ridge to get to Jiaying from near the Tangdu La north of Chawalong:


And finally Esther, here's a map view, looking over the Nujiang from west to east, showing [in green, lower section] where the trail goes from Chawalong. You can see my previous travels along the Kawakarpo Kora marked in red. Of course this is all just across the border from Yunnan in Tibet so out of bounds to big noses. In the good old days of few visitors you could sneak through at night on a hired motorbike, but now they've put a big police checkpoint at Quju and you have very little chance of getting past that.

A few years ago I had the idea of trekking through to Jiaying round an old herder's track just above the treeline from the Sho La (also marked in green, top) - I found a few Chinese hiker accounts of it and it sounded very hairy, remote and exposed. Would take about three days. Epic.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

A great website about travel in SW China

 


If you enjoy reading  articles about the explorers and adventurers in South West China of the 1920s, you will appreciate this excellent website by John Hague. It describes the travels of his grandfather  Dr Hubert Gordon Thompson and Brig. Gen. George Pereira around Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu and beyond to Peking in 1923. If the name Pereira rings a bell it's because Joseph Rock mentions him in his articles. The articles are a great read and also have wonderful photographs. They include diaries, maps and also photographs of artefacts from the travel.

Enjoy!