Hailuogou Glacier

The next day we went our seperate ways, Tenzin back to Guza and I went on to the town of Moxi, further south. I wanted to visit the Hailuogou Glacier. As the road was out on the way up to Moxi I was told I would have to carry on on foot. (no refund mind you) There was any number of people loitering about threatening to carry my bags for me. One of them told me it was two hours walk up to Moxi. I could tell he was lying because his lips were moving. Divide by four, what anyone with a vested interest tells you, is my rule of thumb. I travel light so it wasn't a difficult 30 to 40 minute hike. At one point I heard a load noise and looking across watched the hillside opposite, collapse into the river. Crossing over at the next footbridge I was able to get a ride on a motorbike up to the village.

Hai Luo Gou Glacier

Hailouogou Glacier, Sichuan.

I got a very good deal on a nice hotel room. TV, bathroom, hot water Y30 and booked in for 2 nights. Wandering around the town I stumbled upon an old church, where Mao Zedong aparently stayed during the Long March. An old lady there was kind enough to open it up for me. It looked like it might still be in use. The following day I visited the glacier which was a fantastic sight albeit expensive. The chairlift alone was Y160. As I was preparing to come down the mountain the power failed. I pity anyone who may have been left suspended in mid-air. I got to walk on the glacier itself after hiring a guide, compulsory. She can't have been more than about 12 years old!





Shimian

From Moxi I continued south to Shimian, getting nicely ripped off by the taxi driver in the process. On arrival in Shimian I checked into the bus station hotel. These usually have decent reasonably priced rooms. As I was taking a shower I heard some frantic knocking on the door, before they let themselves in. I stood naked behind the door as the two girls blurted stuff out simultaneously and as I was unable to follow any of it, I asked them to wait until I finished my shower. It turned out the hotel wasn't licensed to accept foreigners and I would have to leave. Great! The woman in charge was rather impolite about the whole thing too.

The town was a bit of a non event so I killed time in a net cafe before I could get a bus out to Xichang the next day. Getting out of town would take all day. My bus was cancelled for some reason which I couldn't quite get so I thought I'd try for halfway, a town called Mianning. We set off at 11 o'clock only to be sent back and told to reassemble at 4:30. An hour later something was afoot but I couldn't make sense of what they were telling me. Again two or three people all talking at once, so I gave up and exchanged my ticket for a bus in the opposite direction to the nearest train station, where I got onto a late night train to Xichang. I was quite pleased to get out of that broken town.

Xichang: Satellite City

Xichang is near a Chinese satellite launching station which has recently been opened up for tourism. I was keen to see the station but it wasn't to be. I was however sent on a wild goose chase in my attempts to get onto a tour of the site.

It's a culturally diverse city and is the centre of the Yi people who comprise, the largest ethnic group (43%). Traditional Yi society was a caste sytem with an aristocracy, a nobility, free people and two classes of slaves. The lowest caste consisted of slave's children and captured people of other tribes, particularly Han Chinese. Slavery basically ended when the communists arrived though I got the impression that the Chinese were still a little afraid of the Yi. They also had their own distinctive script which is used alongside Chinese in the city of Xichang. A visit to the Yi Nationality Slavery Museum gave me a fascinating insight into this complex society.

Right: An example of the Yi script along side Chinese (left)