This photo-blog is designed to work either as a standard blog with images or - by clicking any image - a photo-album. To see an image in full resolution in the 2006 journey, click to the left or right of an image in blog mode.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chengdu to Lijiang

Chengdu's crowded station, a view from the train, and Panzhihua bus station

2006-09-24 The next day we headed for the train station and took the night train for Panzhihua where there was a connection to Lijiang to position ourselves in a 'Shangri La' within reach of the Laos border where we might ask again for a visa extension. In the morning we arrived at Jinjiang or Panzhihua, an industrial city crushed alongside yet another hill-shrouded river valley. We met a heap of touts, but chose to pay Y3 to get on a bus which took us several miles downstream to the main bus station where we managed to figure the queues in Chinese to book a ticket on the earliest bus for Lijiang half an hour later.


The ride took us steeply up the western bank of the river past smog ridden industry replete with coal mines belching flames and fumes like Mordor winding up over a ridge into farmland still dotted with chemical and other industries.

Mordor Sichuan

Plastic bags were handed out to all the passengers, because the road was winding to the point of nausea and vomiting. Christine held onto her stomach while I moved from window to aisle photographing the escarpments.

At one point the bus brakes broke, requiring half an hour of repairs

As the day wore on for 8-9 hours, the scenery became more and more impressive going from polluted drabness to verdant farming valleys with traditional Chinese houses and yellow paddies of harvest wheat.

Each time we thought we were coming to Lijiang we passed through another valley to ascend another higher more precipitous pass until finally when we though we had reached it we drove out the end of the valley into a ravine full of road metal mines and then wound up into the clouds in a seemingly endless switchback of hairpins that were as stunning as the road traversing the Himalayas from Nepal which spells out that we have indeed returned to the Eastern end of the Himalayan range.

Finally at around four we arrived in Lijiang and were escorted on spec by a woman to a really cute quiet "Leaf and Rain Garden Inn" - just the place to shelter after a hard week on the road.

No comments:

Post a Comment