It’s -9 deg C here in Kangding, a city with a strong Tibetan flavour, not so obvious in the lyrics of Kangding Love Song. And all the romance of this city in the mountains gets a strong jolt when you contemplate the long and arduous bus ride up here. We got up early and managed to catch the 8.00am bus to Kangding. The bus took a whole hour to get out of Chengdu. It was a smooth 2-hour ride to Ya An on a marvellous highway. Sadly, the road then started to snake around mountains, ascending from and descending to river banks. The scenery was quite awesome and I was thinking that we might arrive ahead of schedule when we ran into a traffic jam at Luding. It’s amazing how much construction is going on at this seemingly remote location so far from Chengdu. Modern housing projects were springing up all along the Dadu River. Monstrous construction and destruction machines were brought in, creating huge dams, tunnels and bridges. Roads alongside the mountains got diverted. Old, crumbling bridges stood abandoned.
We pulled into Kangding Bus Station at almost 5.00pm. It was a punishing ride.
Kangding is much bigger than what the maps in the guidebooks would have us believe. There are images of Tibetan dieties carved on the faces of the mountain overlooking the city. There are also IT malls and neon signs advertising coffeeshops, cinemas and bars. Kangding Hotel, recommended in the guide books, has also closed down. But this place is packed with hotels of all shapes and sizes. We stayed at the Anjue Si Hotel just in front of the now defunct Kangding Hotel. The room we’re staying in now looks pretty decent albeit a little rundown, with no air-con (heater) but with working electric blankets. There’s a TV, computer and hot shower. All this for just Y180. I checked out the Kangding Love Song Hotel. Their cheapest room goes for about Y800.
There are places doing steaks and other Western dishes, but I decided to throw the little into the deep end and let him try some local dishes. Really, they all look rather unappetising. No fish. Just pork and chicken all cooked with numbing peppercorns. Besides that would be shredded potatoes and long beans. I told the little one that it was important to have food in your stomach. In this cold weather, you need the calories.
We walked around the city a bit, but by then, the sun had set and it was beginning to get bone-chilling. The little one was decidely not mentally prepared for this. In my mind, I wish he can survive Daocheng. Maybe this will teach him to complain about the heat in Singapore, but seeing that his father is so at home in the mountains, I’m not sure if he will give up so easily.
My plans for tomorrow? Maybe I’ll charter a vehicle to go to Xinduqiao, Tagong and a couple of other places.