Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wow, duct tape DOES fix everything!

After leaving Zhonglu, I spent one more night in Danba, enjoying a private room for a mere $3.50. The next morning, I was off to the Tagong Grasslands, which are perched up high in the mountains at about 2,600 meters.

Since Danba is quite small and Tagong is like a speck of dust on the map, there is no bus service between the two cities. Sim informed me that it's quite common to simply go down to the bus station and find a van going where you need to go. Shady as it sounds, it's actually pretty legit, though technically illegal. There's a fixed price that all the guys follow between each town. And the vans--wow. They're all very tricked out and blast Tibetan pop music, often with accompanied video on the passenger visor.

My first van was without incident and took me a few hours south to Bamei, where the driver handed me off to a Tagong-bound van. That's when the fun began. The driver and his friend in the front, luggage in the back and me and two tibetan monks in the middle. About 15 minutes out of Bamei, tssss. Punctured tire.

Our driver quickly finds the hole and covers it with his finger. Sidekick searches through the van for some way to patch it. Obviously there's no spare A stick and some really crappy electrical tape are all he comes up with. Realizing this isn't going to get us through the next 50 minutes to Tagong, I come up with a solution. Bubble gum and duct tape. Yes, really. I just happened to have both on me (someone told me once to wrap some duct tape around a pen or marker so you have some with you).

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Gum chewed and duct tape applied, we were off. And I'll be damned if this quick fix didn't get us all the way to Tagong, through some terrifically shitty roads. But to cap it off, the jerkoff charged me the whole 15 yuan for the trip.

Tagong

Tagong is basically a one-street town--actually I'd call it an outpost. It's surrounded by groups of yak hurders. Imagine an old wild-west film except the cowboys are all Tibetan. Unfortunately I didn't get a great shot of the town. Only this one that I took after a rain storm.

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Being small, there's not a lot to do except for some hiking in the nearby hills. But at 2,600 meters, my lungs didn't feel too up to it, especially since it seemed as though I as coming down with some sort of lung ailment (more on that, and the treatment, later).

To get a good view of the surrounding area, I opted for an hourlong horse ride. It was a bit silly but which one of you can say they've ridden a Tibetan horse among the mountains in Sichuan? My trusty steed was quite small actually. All the horses are about 2/3 the size of those we typically ride in America.

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And the views I enjoyed:

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Other than that, I kept pretty quiet. I had yak pizza. Yak tastes like gamey beef. I don't recommend it. It rained a bunch and I was the only foreigner in town, as far as I could tell. And the next day, I had more moving to do.

2 comments:

Steff said...

Thank goodness for duct tape!

Gorgeous photos of Tagong. And you aren't kidding about it looking like a Western town. I was just in South Dakota and Deadwood and Tagong look awfully similar - both the type of buildings and the backdrop of grassy, hilly slopes.

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