Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Travelogue: Kangding Love Song

Was I being purposely jiwang? Nope. This is in fact the reason why many tourists (especially Chinese tourists) flock to Kangding (also known as Dardo in Tibetan), a medium sized town in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of China, located around 7 hours from Chengdu. Apparently, the lyrics to this old Sichuan folk song reveal such a place of beauty that people decided to stop listening and start travelling.

Now, for one to travel to Tibet, there are specific hurdles to overcome like getting an official TTB (Tibet Travel Permit), having a like-able face with a convincing I-Am-Not-A-Free-Tibet-Supporter smile etc. Rule of thumb is simple though: it depends on the current news. If there are demos/clashes between Tibet & China, then you probably gotta sacrifice your first born before you can enter the place. When we were there, there were news of travellers blocked even from entering Kangding. Why, you ask?

Truth is, Kangding is the closest you can get to experiencing Tibet. Native Tibetans make up half of the city's population and there is a strong Tibetan feel to this place. No wonder there is an equally strong presence of the Chinese military as well. Hence, the tension. But don't let politics get in the way between you and the exquisite beauty of this place. Another note: It's true that Kangding is fast turning into another soul-less tourist spot but all you gotta do is just travel a little bit further and you're back in the arms of Mother Nature. Here's a tip or two on what to do after you squeezed through the blockades. If there are any lah.

Drink in the geographical beauty of this place. If you're taking the 7 hour bus trip from Chengdu, that's pretty much you can do unless if the driver puts on a nice movie... Anyway, China is an amazing country with its diversity of natural landscape but this mountainous view had me ooh-aahing like a Hogwarts kid in Weasley Wizard Wheezes joke shop.


Ahh, Kangding Town Center. There are two things you'll notice here: 1. They look cold. 2, There are soldiers hanging around too. Here's the truth about Kangding i.e. it is always cold here so pack your clothes well, and that you can't help but notice the military presence. Here in the town square, the locals do their own version of Make Love, Not War: They dance almost EVERY single evening. Join them if you can.

I always have this fascination with beautiful tribal cultures and in Kangding, I could secretly fulfill my love for the Tibetan culture and old people. Here, three local grandmas chill at the town square, oblivious to nerdy me. Yeehaw.

If you're done with the urban setting of Kangding and want to remind yourself why you're here in the first place, don't forget to visit one of the many Tibetan monasteries/temples around. There's an air of tranquility I can't describe there. True happiness does not seem that far away from grasp...

as demonstrated by my sis Sarah! Yes, true happiness may be in the form of snow for first timers like us! Considering the high altitude and snow capped mountains as background, surrounding oneself with snow did not appear that hard after all. It was amazing.

You can arrange this trip (the foot of the Gongga Mountain area) with your guest house. We stayed at Zhilam Hostel, which is the best guest house I have stayed so far and they were kind enough to let us Asians (and one Brit) loose in a strange strange land. Oh, tea never taste so good until you have it here with half of your ass freezing. Bliss.

Stay true to your Asian roots by taking a picture of a yak or with you standing beside it, pretending to be cute. Such random pictures only prove that you don't have yaks in your country so you have ALL the right to squeal when you see one. I squealed especially because when there are yaks, there will definitely be...

Butter tea!! Score! Butter tea is the official drink for Tibetans and although the name suggests a drink that is rich & buttery, truth is it is salty and light (butter here is a reference to the yak butter added into the mix). Apparently it is the best cure for altitude sickness too. We had this meal at a long standing Tibetan cafe. Turns out my momo dumpling tasted better than the ones we had in Kangding. *kembang*

I forgot the name of the place but do go to this Cafe if you're there. The food is cheap and good, it is managed by local Tibetans and only mostly Tibetans eat here. I'd like to believe that the money you're spending is going straight into their pockets rather than Mighty China. They need it more, that is for sure.

Last but not least, I'd say just let go of yourself in Kangding. The place is a testament to Divine genius. You can't help but be spiritual in this kind of places. Meditate, smile at strangers or just sit there and contemplate on things. It's bound to make your heart swell. Seriously, what is better than that?

......

Maybe you can learn how to sing the Kangding Love Song? (I can't help myself. Teehee)


High upon the mountain side
Floats a cloud so white
There lies peaceful Kang Ding town
Bathed in silver moonlight

Moonlight shines bright
Over Kang Ding town, oh

Lovely maid with a smile so sweet
Li the wood cutter’s daughter
Gheng the blacksmith eldest’s son
Came through moonlight to court her

Moonlight shines bright
Over Kang Ding town, oh
Came through moonlight to court her

He fell in love with her smile so sweet
And her pleasing ways, oh
She could cook and she could sew
Care for him all of his days, oh

Moonlight shines bright
Over Kang Ding town, oh
Care for him all of his days, oh

Lovely maidens of the world
I cannot but love you
Gentlemen folk of the world
They cannot but woe you

Moonlight shines bright
Over Kang Ding town, oh
They cannot but woe you

Moonlight shines bright
Over Kang Ding town, oh

0 poetic mutterings: