Well, the plan in China was to go to Tibet. I had the same plan two years ago, but then suddenly it got ridiculously expensive/difficult. Unfortunately things haven’t changed – actually quite the opposite. In fact Tibet is now in the same price range as Bhutan if you are travelling by yourself. So Tibet got postponed for the second time. Instead I chose to travel the area right outside Tibet province (I did the same two years ago… we remember the sky burial). No permits are needed and the Tibetan culture is apparently as good, or even stronger than the Han-Chinese flooded Tibet province. So the route this time was northwest bound: Chengdu – Kangding – Tagong – Ganzi – Dege – Manigango – Serxu Gompa – Yushu – Xining.

Mainland China…

the Tibetan areas…. uh, the choice of where to go is difficult.

Not Stockholm, but Chengdu. Finally European companies start to sell all their Chinese made products back to the Chinese. Brilliant!

Last time I travelled the region I was all by myself, so this time I was delighted to find two travel mates, British Alex (23y) and Swiz Marti (29y), with the same plan. The scarily bright-minded Alex was on his pre-real-job trip before the finance world would turn him into an enviously wealthy man. The well-travelled Marti was a PhD student, also from the finance world, with a love for photography, Chinese BBQ and Asian… eh, beauty. Both great travel-, drinking-, and discussion-buddies (though their finance discussions went over my head). But enough back padding, back to China.

Marti (left) and Alex in a minibus (10 hours ride) stuffed with 14 Chinese and me.

Alex hypnotized by some Chinese BBQ. Don’t ask what kind of meat it was!

A traveller’s dent in Tagong… one of the few places with other travellers.

The only entertainment around were pool…

and Tibetan karaoke.

Getting around was with whatever transport we could find. Here dealing with minibus drivers.

This lorry gave us a lift (it was even free).

Two men from Shanghai managed to squeeze us, our bags and a couple of hundred polyester shirts into their car.

The polyester-shirt guys and me at one of the many mountain passes. The sign state 4700m, but my GPS said 4568m… not the first time that happened.

As usual all menus were in Chinese.

Ordering food was therefor always a bit tricky…

Here Alex tries to order with a pointing dictionary… surprisingly, we did get something to eat in the end.

Some of the small towns we went through were purely Tibetan wild west.

Our ceiling in a hotel in Dege.

And the toilet… at least there was a door and it could even lock… not always the case (both with the door and lock). Please note that there is no bath… something we had to live without for almost a week.

Marti trying to capture the amazing mountain scenery from the bouncing backseat, not easy at all.

Here a truck that didn’t manage to hang on to the winding road.

Marti takes another shot.

One day we had to rent a whole minivan for a day’s journey, and this was our fine Tibetan driver. Unfortunately the trip ended a bit strange. When we were 30km from our destination, the driver stopped in a town, which had a similar name as our destination, and denied to drive any further. So there we were, discussing for two hours, drawing the attention of half of the town and getting nothing than stupidity from the only English speaking person in town, who was only drawn in for translating, but decided to negotiate on the behalf of the driver, with the usual lame arguments as “everything in Europe is so expensive, so therefor you are able to pay whatever”. We ended up paying a bit more, which we could have done right away, if the driver hadn’t categorily denied to drive any further – he even tried to convince us that we were in the right town.

If you think monks are thrifty, come to China.

This is the last picture before my camera decided to crash (shutter needs to be replaced)… so now I have to buy a new body before next destination (oh, it is a secret what it is). Luckily I had a compact camera with me, else I would have been very grumpy traveller and the blog would have ended here.

Breakfast Tibetan style. Yak yogurt served with chopsticks… I just love their way of thinking.

One of the last places on our Tibetan odyssey was Yushu, which got hit by an earthquake earlier this year. Most houses were demolished and replaced by blue emergency tents.

Your spiritual traveller in a moment of enlightenment!

As always, if you want to see some “real pictures” from the trip visit Globe Spots and check out the photo galleries.