Thursday, August 25, 2005

Floody Hell

The road linking Sichuan to Tibet is certainly among the most beautiful in the world, but the breathtaking gorges also make it a rather risky place to live as well. As it was pissing it down on Sunday night in Litang I was snuggly huddled under my blanket. The people living in the valley above the town of Yajiang weren't so lucky as many of the houses, bridges and a good chunk of the road were swept away when their stream became a raging torrent. Unfortunately for me, the valley also contained the only road out of Litang. No buses were leaving Litang so we had to hire a minibus again and have it take us as far as the road would go. From there we had to walk. Luckily it was mostly downhill all the way (otherwise the 15km, with 20kg on my back, would not have been so much fun) with beautiful views. However there were places in which the river had swept away everything in its wake and the only way of getting past was by scrambling along steep paths with the churning maelstrom of the river just beneath. It was also sad to see people whose entire livelihoods had been swept away, though at the same time it was heartening to see them getting on with things and trying to make do as best they could.

My next day's travelling didn't fare much better either. On the bus heading east from Kangding I thought I was away from the landslides, floods and other natural disasters. How wrong I was. We almost missed the landslide by 10 minutes, but in the end we sat there for over 4 hours. Still, I had been bracing myself for a night in the bus surrounded by spitting Chinese, so I was happy in the end.

But now I am, finally, away from the most mountainous areas and so hopefully will not have any more travel hiccups (touch wood). So a word to the wise, if you ever do plan to travel in China I'd recommend you don't between June and September.

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