Songpan: From Huanglong Into Mao Xian (Maoxian) County, China


It would be two hours by road before reaching Mu Ni Gou, located in Song Pan County. Songpan is east of the vast Aba Autonomous Prefecture which sprawls over the Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai borders. This area is the domain of the Goloks (a nomadic group of herders) and a Bonpa stronghold. Both tribes you don’t want to mess with.

Songpan, was founded as a garrison town guarding the neck of a valley. Songpan is one of Sichuan’s few surviving walled towns and is surrounded on three sides by high stone walls, most of them reconstructed. Their shops (unimpressive) still cater to the occasional Tibetan and and local Qiang. The only impressive sight we saw in Songpan was an old bridge. Glad our itinerary didn’t call for an overnight there. (Thank you, Cindy.)

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old Songpan bridge, China

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Songpan wall, China

On this long drive, I was forced to use a public toilet… My method is to unzip pants before even entering, toilet paper in hand, take a deep breath, race in and out trying not to breathe at all. If you absolutely have to breathe, use mouth only. This lovely toilet was fortunately empty…with the exception of me…ergo, a photo of a typical public toilet. Actually, this one was cleaner than most…give me a bush any day…

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Chinese public toilet along the road

Now in Qiang land with corn terraces instead of rice or wheat, apple orchards and villages. Qiang Ethnic Group are ardent and passionate Tibetan clansmen. They wear black turbans, live in flat-roof stone houses and have 60-foot high watchtowers (didn’t see any). The Qiang also grow apples and have many walnut groves. There were houses with corn drying…

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apple trees in the Qiang  fields, China
 

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Qiang terraces in China
 

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Qiang ethnic group house in China

Very few of the Qiang people dress in their native costumes outside of the villages and finally saw one woman along the road. I leaped out of the car, took one fast photo from a distance, and approached her to ask if I could take a photograph…she said no. At least, one is better than nothing.

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Qiang woman wearing her unique dress, China

Yaks! Huge fluffy white ones. …View image…Time for a rest stop for us and other tour buses. Okay…broke down and had my photo taken on a yak. For 10 yuan (little more than $1), how could I resist? My yak woman spoke great English and took the digital camera away from ex-Marine when he was fumbling with it. “Here…give that to me…I take good pictures…” and she did. My yak weighed around 200 kilos = 440 pounds.

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fluffy white yak owner in China
 

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Travels With Sheila on her fluffy white yak in China

Along with all the yak people trying to get tourists to pose on their yak, there were people selling vegetables…View image…and very strange looking mushrooms…

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strange mushrooms along the way in China

…and the beautiful Min Jiang River. This was a good stop and fun. What’s the point of traveling if you can’t be a hokey tourist every now and then?

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Min Jiang River scene in China

Back in the car past cornfields and pagodas…

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Pagoda on hill in Chiang ethnic group country, China
…A very long day and what a shock when all of a sudden, Wang-Lee swerved off the road and we were there. At a gorgeous hotel that acts as a stopping point for tourists heading from Chengdu towards Xining and vice versa.

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Maoxian map

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