Songpan (松潘)

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Visited Songpan in north Sichuan. Getting in was little slower due to damage by the terrible rains in this region recently.

It was worth the long journey immediately on entering, the small colourful town seemed a bit more calm than others, this small town at an elevation of 2867 meters is a center for trade and quite diverse compared to other cities with Tibetan, Han, Qiang and Hui living side by side.

Songpan old town is a surrounded by a wall and a gate on each direction. North is the main gate. South is more touristic with it’s original structure with bullet holes from WW2. Then all the way on top of a hill was the west gate.

As the bad road put my schedule a bit behind, I immediately found my new goal: climb up to west gate and check the view!

I had no idea where I was going so I just started walking upwards and with some help found the path up from the alleyways.

Do you see the gate, all the way up the green hill here:

It takes a good hour or so to walk up.

I sat a bit here and there. I felt a bit short on breath due to the altitude, took it easy. From the alleyways there were bushy pathways, followed by rocky stairs, followed by wooden stairs.

I met a grand of three tourist on the way up. (That’s crazy quiet in China) only thing I could hear was the sound of a cricket or a crow.

To the top!

All alone on the top. Turns out, The gate is not used apart from light display. It looked quite new, a local told me west gate is rebuild in late 90s, just like large parts of the old city.

Standing on west gate, I was happy i reached the top, but then i noticed another hill beyond that, with some Tibetan artefacts. So climbing continues.

And back down. The view was worth it!

Horses just roam the hill freely it seems. The sheep and yak were less free but still wanted to share here.

On the way down took a different path and passed a newly build Dabei temple. It was closed off for the public but it looked impressive from outside the wall. Down the hill from there is the older Guanyin Pavilion. This pavilion features a lot of interesting details, like the vase with flowers on top here.

The old town came alive in the cooler evening. Buy fruits, dried meats. Most people busy at hotpot restaurants.

I only stayed one night, but with the nearby tourist attractions I would recommend to stay a bit longer. Next year there will be a train here from Chengdu, it will be more convenient but also – I suspect – busier.

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