16th, 18th, 19th August 2004.

Songpan sits about 10 hours on a very windy (and scary bus ride) from Chengdu. It is famous for its horse trekking (much to the delight of Claire and her allergy to horse hair) and Tibetan culture.  There is also a heavy Muslim culture here.

Huin muslim woman wonder why there is so much noise and roadworks going on in this vastly expanding town.

Tibetans come to visit the town to get their weekly shopping.  Its Whilst it was a little chilly during the evening, during the day they look a tad wrapped up.

Songpan is one enormous building site that has been ear-marked by the government for the advent of mass-tourism.

The photo shows the phenomenon of the Chinese manual worker perhaps the only manual workers in the world to insist on wearing suits.

They seem to be more interested in building walls and roads rather than showers. There is one public shower house in the whole of town (Most hotels seem not to provide these services).

This is a typical bus passenger that has to sit next to you on the 10 hour bus journey here. It is possible to count how many cigarettes they smoke if you can see them through the haze.

His mate crept up on Claire and tried to hold her hand and follow her around town...not creepy at all.

To escape the noise and bustle of town we climbed straight up the hill.

We met Billy on the way.

This woman was gardening and called us over to use our binoculars and asked us to take pictures of her and her very sunburnt kid.

The Tibetan kids wanted us to take their photos, we were keen to get on as the rain looked like it was coming in.

This cheeky chap wanted anything from us as his dad had told him to grab anything out of our bags. Getting smart, he put his hand in Claire's pocket and found dirty tissues carefully placed in a plastic bag as you wouldn't want that sort of tissues opening up in your pocket. As he opened the tissue looking very pleased with himself at his theft Jason motioned to him that it had been applied to a backside and the kid looked mortified as his sisters laughed at him.

Yaks were everywhere.

Horses carrying great loads.  Songpan wasn't Claire's best place, horse pollution doesn't bode well with her allergy.  The hostels who don't wash their sheets also make it hard for her to breath.

We took another walk up to a monestry.  We got caught in the rain that soon turned to hail.  It was hitting us so hard on the back of our legs that they were red and sore for hours.

A good reminder that we are on the Eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau and at this altitude the weather can change pretty quick.

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