Songpan: Horse Treks

Returning to Chengdu I took the oportunity to visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre. The following day I took the bus north to Songpan, for a horse trekking expedition. The horse trek came at Tenzin's recommendation and indeed it was one of my favourite parts of the whole trip. I met a nice couple from Shanghai, who were naturalised Australians. Tony had a pretty good grip on the Australian vernacular and was prone to coming out with expressions like "No worries mate!". The guides were fantastic though my horse was a bit of a brute. Not being totally au fait with the finer points of horse riding, I did come off a couple of times. Kevin's kung fu rolls proved valuable here as I came up with nothing more than a few scratches. (Homage to the Master!)

Tony

Left: A couple from Shanghai, whom I met on my trek.

My trek was to the "Ice Mountain", was shortened from 4 days to 3 because the two Chinese needed to catch a plane back to Shanghai. It was probably just as well because we made the 2nd camp on the first day, at which point thunder and lightning arrived followed by a very thick snowfall. There was no going on. It didn't matter though, it was a beautiful spot, I had good company and snow is always fun. The guides found out my Chinese name, Chen Wei Long, and took to calling me Chen Long (Jacky Chan). We bought a goat from a local village which we roasted on a pole.

Making the descent was a bit treacherous, as the snow had begun to melt. We stopped on he way down at a Tibetan village for some tsampa. Tsampa is basically roasted barley flour and is eaten with yak butter tea. It is a staple for Tibetan people. Incidentally, Tenzin tells me that yak butter/milk is a bit of a misnomer as the Yak is the male of the species. Back in Songpan I bumped into my guide that evening, and he invited me home for dinner. After dinner he went to pick up his pay and we joined the two other guides at a local tea house for some su cha (sweet tea) and baijiu. Wonderful people, great hospitality.