Magnificent scenery, fierce canines, and laid-back locals await you on your visit to Qiunatong 秋那通, one of the last villages in Yunnan云南 before you enter Tibet西藏.
Barring a few hamlets, Yunnan province virtually ends at Qiunatong. At least all paved roads end here. If you walk or cycle west of here for a day or so, you’ll find end up in Tibet proper. That is if you don’t stumble upon a Chinese border security post!
The Tibetan Village of Dong Feng offers one of the easiest day trips from Bingzhongluo 丙中洛. Head north out of town along the main road and you’ll soon find yourself on a wide dirt tract with a river running below it.
Is this China?
Continue for a few meters and the path veers sharply left; all of a sudden, Bingzhongluo has disappeared and Dong Feng comes into view.
Unfortunately, distances around here are deceptive. The steepness of the mountain slopes makes everything look closer than it actually is, and the path to Dong Feng is no exception.
The beautiful road from Gongshan 贡山 (see previous article) ends at the one- street town of Bingzhongluo 丙中洛. It is difficult to find a town in a more remote place in China that is accessible by road on public transport. More than 350 kilometres separate this outpost from Liuku 六库, the town at the mouth of the Nujiang valley 怒江谷, from where there are connections to the rest of Yunnan Province 云南省.
Arrive on a sunny morning, and you will find Bingzhongluo bustling with ethnic minorities shopping for provisions or chatting with friends. Take in the town’s dramatic location, set below the magnificent slopes of the snow-capped mountains gleaming in their various shades of radiant green, and above the raging waters of the Nujiang River, seemingly in a frenetic rush to reach Myanmar and empty itself in the Bay of Bengal, and you can easily imagine you’ve arrived in the Shangri-La of James Hilton’s Lost Horizon.
On the other hand, should you arrive in Bingzhongluo late on a rainy, damp and misty evening, make your way past the flooded pot holes, dodge the mangy dogs fighting over scraps strewn across the street from the overturned bins, and you might ask yourself why you’d made the effort to get there.
As always, the truth about Bingzhongluo lies somewhere in the middle. It’s a kilometre long stretch of old wooden shacks, hastily built concrete shops, and China’s trademark white- tile administrative buildings. And yet, Continue reading “Bingzhongluo (Nujiang Valley 2)”
In the following weeks (months) we will be putting up information about travelling in the Nujiang Valley. This article will quickly look at Liuku六库, the town at the entrance to the valley and Gongshan贡山, the last town before you arrive at Bingzhongluo 丙中洛, the beautiful one- street village at the end of the valley.
Nujiang River Near Gongshan
The Nujiang River, one of China’s last remaining undammed rivers, begins high on the Tibetan plateau before roaring down through the deep valleys and towering mountains of Yunnan province and then swinging into Burma and finally emptying out into the Andaman Sea at Mawlamyine. The Nujiang Valley is a home to a number of ethnic groups.
The villages that dot the slopes of the mountains above the river are populated by Lisu, Nu (a Tibetan sub-group) Drung and Tibetans. There is also a smattering of Hui (Chinese Muslims) and Burmese traders.
Landslides, mudslides, traffic accidents, then more landslides, rock falls and even more traffic accidents. Every journey we made this summer in Yunnan seemed to involve at least one of those mishaps and sometimes several of them.
Watching the news in China during the rainy and typhoon season can be like watching a disaster movie that never ends. From landslides to floods, earthquakes to collapsing bridges, the whole country seems immersed in an ongoing state of calamities that sometimes verge on biblical proportions. Yet, until this year, we had always been lucky. We were either somewhere completely different, we had already been and gone, or we were about to go, but we were never actually there, on the spot. We were quite used to watching all those disasters from the comfort of our hotel room. Yet, this year it was all different.
The worst incident was the massive mudslide in Puladi near Gongshan along the Nujiang River, where a whole village was wiped off the face of the earth. Many people were killed and Continue reading “An Eventful Trip”