I’m off!

Sichuan Province: you can see Kangding, to the left of Chengdu, and Dege in upper left. Dege is close to the border with the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

It’s Saturday morning, and I’ve spent a frenzied week making plans for the summer break. I turned in my final grades on Tuesday, then collected my international travel reimbursement from the University. It’s a tidy sum of money, considering I only bought a one-way ticket and they paid me for round-trip.

As of right this moment (although they may change at any second), here are my plans for this summer:

On Monday morning I’ll leave for Kangding, a 7-hour bus ride from Chengdu, in the mountainous areas of western Sichuan. I’ll spend two weeks exploring Kham, as the eastern region of Tibet is called. From Kangding I’ll take a bus to Ganzi, a 15-hour trip over hideous roads. Ganzi has a large monastery, and some beautiful scenery.

View of Ganzi town. Source:
http://www.khamaid.org/photos/ganzi/ganzitownview1991.jpg

Depending on my mood and timetable, I’ll travel to Dege (in Tibetan it rhymes with “reggae”) , site of a famous printing house that preserves about 70% of all Tibetan literature, in the form of hand-carved wooden printing blocks. At a distance from Dege is Palpung Monastery (pronounced something like Bebung in Tibetan). One of the largest Buddhist monasteries outside of Lhasa, I’ve wanted to visit it ever since I read two books by Pamela Logan describing her visits there, and the subsequent restoration of the monastery’s murals under the direction of the Kham Aid Foundation.


Palpung Monastery, near Dege. Source:
http://www.khamaid.org/photos/palpung/98exterior.jpg

Travel is SLOW in Kham. I plan to spend a minimum of 6 days riding buses, with at least one day in Kangding to acclimatize myself. My visit there last August involved three days of altitude sickness. I’m keeping my fingers crossed this time.

If I take my film camera with me (still don’t have a digital one), it may be quite some time before I can post pictures of my journey. I spent the day yesterday in Chengdu doing some frenzied shopping, which isn’t easy when you wear full-figured American sizes as I do. I did, however, get some nifty sandals, new socks, and a T-shirt.

After my Tibetan adventure, and a day or two of rest, I’m off to Ganzhou, Jiangxi, to teach for four weeks at a summer camp for middle-school students. Ganzhou is a very historic town, which looks like it’s conserved many of its old buildings. I’ll be working at Gannan Normal University there. I just hope the weather isn’t too hot and steamy.

After my incredibly busy summer schedule, I should have 2-3 weeks to relax in Chengdu before beginning the fall semester at UESTC.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to view my blog for about a month now. I can post to it; I just can’t read it. I don’t know why the Chinese government thinks that Blogspot may be dangerous or subversive. Also, the government in its infinite wisdom decided to block Flickr, the website where I pay to store all my photographs. I’m a little ticked off.

Bon voyage!

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