Across Western China
Jerry Lee, OneTigris Photographer
Initiation: Guilin, Guangxi
A friend of mine who plays with fire for crowds to see. Her dream is to travel around the world.
First stop: Dali, Yunan
My hometown turned tourist spot. It used to be all beauty and sunshine, now it’s polluted with human activity. I’m posting old pictures instead as this is how Dali should be.
Second stop: Lijiang, Yunan
Nakhi people were the first settlers here all the way back in Sung Dynasty (960-1279AD). It’s an ancient city drenched with history, culture, and amazing landscape.
Third stop: Shangri-La, Yunan
From 2000 meters above sea level to 3200. The road to Shangri-La is steep, narrow and winding, and is a 320 kilometer drive. After much motion sickness and unavoidable retching, we finally reach Napa Sea and camp aside it, as there are no hostels in sight. In this majestic land, you feel the “wild” of the Tibetan land, its rugged men and strong women everywhere you go.
Fourth stop: Deqin, Tibet
A world surrounded by holy mountains. If you ever travel to Tibet, see if you can visit the 4 holy mountains of Tibetan Buddhism - Kawagarbo, Kailash, Amne Machin, and Gaduojuewu Snow. The weather and road conditions here can be monstrous so inexperienced travelers, beware.
Fifth stop: Yanjing, Tibet
100 kilometers that took 4 hours of driving to complete. Only one checkpoint every 100 kilometers. It’s cold and alien and I took zero pictures here.
Sixth stop: Dongda Mountain, Tibet
5130 meters above sea level. My companions threw up a nightmare and used up more than half of our oxygen supply. The breathtaking sights make up for it though.
Seventh stop: Bome, Tibet
Took a weekly shower and took a break from driving while we stopped in Bome, also known as little Switzerland. The Tibetans love to dance in a wild and reckless way, bursting with life and love for rhythm. I danced too.
Eighth stop: Nyingchi
Back to 2500 above sea level where one could finally manage to breathe without feeling like dying. My companions say they feel like they are in a lounge bar, being served oxygen.
Ninth stop: Lhasa
We pay our respects to the Potala Palace, Qokang Monastery, the White Monastery… Religions aside, I see calmness in the Buddha. There is an absence of joy, fear, anger, sadness. As the expression is as still as the calmest waters, you see your own reflection instead, and you see how troubled the world is on this side of the mirror.
Tenth stop: Kashgar, Xinjiang
Along the way you see miniature villages that shy away from public roads. The rivers are small and quiet, and the scattered family-owned restaurants are quaint and humble too.
Eleventh stop: Tingri, Tibet
We visited small villages that we couldn’t even find the names of on maps. For a moment, we also disappeared on all maps.
Twelfth stop: Hor, Tibet
No words can describe the beauty and images only capture the smallest portion of it. Indescribable.
Thirteenth stop: Zanda, Tibet
The ancient Guge Kingdom began and ended here but their ghosts still linger. What we see now are the skeletons of the land with no traces of its vanished past.
Fourteenth stop: Sengge River, Tibet
My head hurts like hell. I can faintly see India on the other side of Pangong Lake through the headaches.
No Man’s Land, Kashgar
There are wolves on either side of the roads and not a human soul in sight. It is even more haunting with the 5 mountains to go around in pitch darkness.
Final stop: Dahong Liutan
I make it through no man’s land and arrive at Dahong Liutan at 4am to fuel up the car. Less worried about gas. The red flickering dots behind barbed wires in the nighttime are those of wolves’ hungry eyes. It is physically and emotionally exhausting.
An abrupt stop in my journal but I will continue on the road again soon. This is only half of my trip but it’s been 30 days and I need to lay down my dusty body on clean linens and let all the images run through my mind again. Bye for now, folks. If you see me on the road, come say hi over coffee.