Ancient Painting in Tagong Monastery

Tagong Monastery is among the oldest monasteries in eastern Tibet. It was built in Tang Dynasty in the 7th Century by Princess Wencheng. It remained as a old complex through the ages. The paitings on its wall of the temple are considered valued artistic works from monks before.

The color remained the same as the picture was painted and they outlive the wall itself. The paintings are another version of Thangkha, only not on a cloth but wall. Now they are protected as treasures in the monastery.

Tibet of Western Sichuan

There are places in Sichuan that are unknown to the world. We may have learnt that to travel to Tibet you need to use a travel company and have a special permit. Well the western part of Sichuan is geologically and culturally Tibet, if you have not heard.

This part of China is known as western Sichuan and from a Tibetan perspective, the Kham. It is home to over two millions of Tibetan people and also many beautiful and yet unexplored places.

There is the Shambala of Yading, the unexplored lakes of Rangtang, the unnamed peaks of Genyen,etc. TI think the world is still a wonder and full of surprises by looking at these places. 

Cycling around Chengdu in a Week

July and August are good season for traveling. Sichuan attracts many bikers every summer. The cycling usually starts from Chengdu and goes into the mountains.

Start Cycling from Chengdu
Chengdu Cycling Trip

The last trip was a cycling trip around Chengdu for a week. We started from Chengdu and passed Dujiangyan, had the first night by the former earthquake epic center Yingxiu. And then continued to cycle through Wolong Panda Reserve in two days before we met our biggest change when we have to bike up from below 3000 meters to 4600 meters in a day. The road was very good and views are excellent. Cycling down from the pass of Balang is like a reward from the hard working going up.

Biking towards Balang Pass
Cycling to the pass of Balang

The day in the middle we had a hiking day at Mount Siguniang to shake the stiff off our muscles and also to see the great views of Mount Siguniang herself.

Hiking at Mount Siguniang
Hiking at Mount Siguniang

The second pass, which is called Jiajin Pass, that we decided to use a van to help us to go up instead of cycling. It felt like cheating but we didn’t have very good bikes so we agreed it was a good decision to use the van. The view at the second pass was splendid. We got up there early so we got the chance to see the great view of cloud and mountains below us. The longest day of cycling was the day from Jiajin Pass to Lushan going all the way down for 150km’s distance. We caught the rain for the next two days but we are lucky we didn’t stuck in the valley at Lushan as we heard the road was blocked by landslide the next day we were out. From Lushan it took us two days to cycle back to Chengdu.

Jiajin Pass Cycling
Cycling down Jiajin Pass

We didn’t anticipate the pass being so difficult but the road was really good. It rains a lot but when it does not rain, the views make us feel the hard working totally worth. This trip is my longest cycling trip in my life and I felt cycling a lot of fun. The views that I saw along the way is really great.

Muli of Liangshan in Sichuan

Muli is known as a county-level town in Sichuan. It is by far the most remote place I have traveled in Sichuan. Its remoteness consists of two factors, first is the road and the second is the people. And yet its beauty is obvious.

Muli
Muli

To get to Muli you will have to get to Xichang, which is a big city in Sichuan and easy to get to by flight, train and car. By car it is 7 hours from Chengdu. So from Xichang, a Yi people place to Muli, it is another 8 hour’s drive through the gorges and over the mountains. The people that live along the driving road include Chinese, Yi, Tibetans and even Mongolians. The town of Muli itself is not very big but very interesting. It stands on side of a mountain facing the river. Driving into from the mountains feels like a surprise to first time visitors.

People in Muli
Muli People

The people are taller in Muli and it is difficult to tell weather they are Chinese, Yi or Tibetan. Their skin is more tanned probably because of the sun. And the women there are very beautiful. Everyone feels friendly and it seems they all are sharing the town of Muli and the atmosphere. There is a square in the biggest park in the town and people come here to dance every day at 7.00pm. The dancers are Tibetan, Chinese, Yi or Mongolians. I don’t think Chinese people are good dancers but here I was wrong.

Muli Monastery
Muli Monastery

Muli is probably famed, if it is, by Muli Monastery, which is a hundred-year old Buddhist monastery that Joseph Rock described in his book and had a photo of the head monk of Muli monastery on the cover of National Geography in America. Muli Monastery is however not located in the town of Muli but hours’ driving from the town.

Muli is beautiful and far. Muli is not so far if you have the time to explore it.

Shijing Monastery of Longquan in Chengdu

Shijing Monastery is a Chinese Buddhist Monastery built in late Eastern Han Dynasty about 1800 years ago. It is located 50km south east to the city of Chengdu. It is a tranquil Buddhist complex and a nice place to have a day trip to.

Longquan Shijing Monastery
Shijing Monastery of Longquan

Shijing means Buddhist books carved on stone. Shijing Monastery was called Lingyin Monastery from Tang Dynasty and it is considered one of the Great Buddhist Lin of Sichuan. It was refurnished in Ming Dynasty in about 1500BC and used as the first sacred place for the great Buddhist master of Tsongkhapa, an important figure in Tibetan history. Shijing Monastery is composed of different halls built along the slope of the mountain side of Longquan.