Danba Don't Want to be Ya

Trip Start May 04, 2011
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Trip End Oct 08, 2012


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Flag of China  , Shaanxi Sheng,
Saturday, September 24, 2011

One thing I've come to learn is that there are suggested itineraries and everyone will have their opinion but I have to go and experience a place myself before making a conclusion about whether or not it is somewhere equally appealing to me. This is the case with Danba. Those I asked, made it sound like there is no need to visit Kanding, the other city like hub in this Sichuan region but now after choosing Danba in its place I regret skipping Kanding.

I couldn’t get out of this place fast enough. Everyone else I had come with used it just for the night but not ready for another long uncomfortable van/bus ride I took the next day to explore the surrounding villages after a failed attempt to hitchhike to Chengdu midday.

First I walked up the street in search of Suopo and the famous watch towers only to find that the towers were located on the opposite side of the river. Still hopeful that I might be able to hitchhike my way to Chengdu, I skipped retracing my steps to the nearest bridge and instead returned to town.

I sat with my bags on the corner headed to Chengdu with a handwritten sign in Chinese, but all I managed to get were a few smiles, an offer to drive me for $300 USD and a hand with my bags back to the hostel.

The friendly Chinese tourist (Ee) who spoke enough English for us to converse became my companion for the next couple of hours. I resigned to the fact that I was best off booking a ticket on the 6:20AM bus to Chengdu for the next morning and making the most of the day.

On our way to the nearby Tibetan village of Jaiju, where he was staying and voted "best village in China in 2005," I learned that Ee teaches folklore in Beijing and is traveling Sichuan by foot. That translates to walking some 3,000km on the same unpaved, mountain roads that I have barely survived in a vehicle. Ee estimated it would take us two hours to walk the 6km but after an hour and half of walking the steep winding road, me lugging 10lbs. on my back and no view of the village in sight, I started to re-evaluate what I had signed up for. It was a good thing I ate some local wonton soup before we started this trek but I wasn’t feeling very hopeful about arriving there before sundown.

I apologized to Ee and grabbed the first pick-up truck to the top. I imagined that the local driver would drop me somewhere in the center of the village, and he probably would have had there been a center. Instead he dropped me at a guesthouse where a tour bus of Chinese had gathered after a meal. Via an exchange of a few words in English, they basically said a bus would eventually pass for somewhere between $1-$7USDD that could take me back down the hill to Danba.

Meanwhile it was only 3:00PM and I wasn’t excited to return to the armpit of Danba, so instead I hitched a ride with another Chinese couple driving by. This pretty couple ready for GQ magazine, she with an angora like sweater with jewels woven through the neckline and he in his slacks and leather loafers, surprised me when they stopped on the side of the road in pursuit of a hike. We found ourselves walking a muddy path to nowhere, I still have no idea what they were looking for but defeated we retraced our steps and returned to the car.

It was both surreal yet natural to be tagging along on their little field trip. We often stopped to take photos and eventually made our way down the mountain. Exhausted from very little sleep the night before, I became like a baby in the backseat falling asleep as they continued to explore the nearby villages along the river. Every once and awhile I would wake up, wander a monastery with them and then return to unconscious.

I graciously said my “Xiexie” when they deposited me back at my hostel around 7:30PM and unwilling to wander to the market in the pitch dark I purchased two hard-boiled eggs and hit the pillow early.
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