Published: August 17th 2010August 16th 2010
Most buses to anywhere out of Kangding leave at 6 AM so that they can maxmize the probability of completing the trip in daylight. So the bus station was very busy Sunday morning when we crossed the street to find ours to Ganzi. No buses were headed back to Chendu, over the route we had travelled just a few days ago, due to landslide-caused road closures. But, we were told that the bus to Ganzi was running. We decided to go onward, further into the mountains. We figured that we'd find a way back to Chengdu when that time came, and for now we'd push on.
So we left in the dark with a caravan of other buses, immediately climbing on switchbacks out of Kangding. Pretty soon it got light, the trees got shorter and then vanished, and we kept climbing. Each time we thought we had reached the top of the pass it was only a brief flat place and the climbing resumed. Finally, after nearly an hour there was a stupa with many prayer flags, and we started going down. Soon the sun came out, and we were in a beautiful valley with wonderful Tibetan houses, prayer flags
in triangular pattern in the hills, Tibetan writing on the hillsides, Tibetan families on various forms of farm equipment, monks on motorcycles, and high hills green all the way to the top.
So, this was starting to look like the Shangri-La we had come here to see, and we were pretty excited. We also anticipated a relatively early arrival in Ganzi since we had started early and were told that the trip would take 12 hours. Previous reports gave 9-10 hours for the route, but there was some "road construction" this year that made the trip a bit longer. As it turned out, the entire strech of nearly 200 km on the provinical road between naional highways 318 and 317 was either being rebuilt, repaired, or having landslides cleared. It was basically a one-lane dirt road with heavy traffic in both directions. When the road was totally bolcked for awhile we had long waits, and when the lane was fnally opened, the alternation of trucks, cars, and busses in boh directions was accomplished through some anarchic system that eventually got us all on our way. Otherwise, we just proceeded slowly, with ample use of the main Chinese motor vehicle
safety device, the horn.
Because we went so slowly, darkness fell again before we crossed the last high pass into Ganzi. This was a disappointment because we would have like to have seen the scenery from the pass. After 10 PM we rolld into the streets of Ganzi, and proceeded slowly through torn up city streets before finally reaching the bus station an dthen finally our hotel just before 11 PM.
There are more photos below