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Kebabs above the clouds – JiaJinShan Pass

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JinJiaShan Pass

Above the clouds

A weeklong disagreement in Eastern vs. Western travel philosophies led to us parting ways with our Chinese road trip companions in order to remain friends.

Their notion of Chinese hospitality was well-intended, but beginning to become overbearing and stifling. H and I are used to just travelling in a relatively freewheeling manner, so we mutually thought it would be better if we continued separately and met up again in Jiuzhaigou.

Winding road sign

Fortunately, H knew a Chengdu based car & driver, who put us in touch with friend of his who was ready to leave the next day. Despite some very generous “mates’ rates” it was rather expensive as we needed a proper 4×4 for the Sichuan roads.

Our driver picked us up from the luxurious serviced apartments we were using (a bargain at 180rmb/night) and suggested we go for breakfast. Within 10 minutes he’d proved his value by taking us to a taxi drivers café where they’d combined two of my favourite dishes: Double Cooked pork filled Xiaolongbao.

Baoxing Panda Country

Panda Country

Baoxing

Stuffed, we set off towards Four Maidens. We stopped for lunch in Baoxing. This is regarded as the area where a French missionary and zoologist named Armand David was the first foreigner to see a Giant Panda. As such it’s been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary.

Surprisingly, this region’s main crop is Kiwi fruit. They were everywhere, being sold by the bucket load.

JinJiaShan Pass

JinJiaShan Pass

JiaJinShan Scenic Area

The highlight of the drive was the rest stop at the mountain pass through the JiaJinShan Scenic Area. At a height of 4114m it looks down into the cloud-filled valleys below.

Kebab sellers

Kebabs at 4000m

As is usually the case, a group of enterprising Tibetans had set up a small grill and were selling chuan’r kebabs. The private parts of the yak were still nailed to the wall behind them, preserved by the cold, dry mountain air. (Top-right in the picture above)

Tibetan house

Tibetan house

RiLongZhen

The descent to our final destination of RiLongZhen took us through the beginnings of the Tibetan area. Hedges gave way to dry-stone walls, waterfalls fell into babbling brooks and every stretch of road seemed at danger of rock fall.

Houses dotted along the side of the road were no longer concrete monoliths or tin shacks. The Tibetan style houses are made from wood and stone, heavily decorated with flags and brightly coloured paintings.

Winding route over the pass

Winding route over JiaJinShan pass

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Author

Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

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