What a day, much cheaper than anticipated, much more fun than anticipated and much, much more unexpected.
Usually, getting from Kangding to Tagong is a straightforward affair; grab a seat on a minibus (70 quai) and wait two hours; though not so for us. First, we grabbed a minibus (going with three Americans), which drove for about an hour, before smoke starting coming from underneath the drivers seat (where the engine is).
After tolerating this for some time, the driver pulled over, and opened the hood to a radioator, which behaved like a geyser, shooting green coolant in all directions, even as more and more glacial water was poured on to cool the engine.
After waiting for three hours though (spent building wonderful dams in the side of the road, with which I had a brilliant time), we (and the Americans) had had enough; a mechanic had been by two times, first with a fanbelt (it was a belt at least) and then to replace a metal part, but still nothing.
A second van pulled up, all five of us tried going with it, but our driver threw a fit, and the second van asked us to pay him 100 quai, or they wouldn’t take us either.
After some shouting, and calling someone to act as an interpreter, we had had enough, grabbed our bags and marched off, attempting to hitchhike the rest of the way.
After a few false starts, someone who were going to Tagong pulled over, but they only had room for two. Seconds later, a van with room for three pulled over, so with a promise of 2000 quai for the five of us, we set off once again.
Mette and I were in the backseat of a tow truck, our backpacks in the rear (getting smeared with oil).
Underway of course, the truck broke down, but with a few bottles of water on the engine, we were ready to go again, for a while. It wasn’t long before we stopped again, to pick up two additional hitchhikers, so there were now 7 of us in five seats.
Nothing lasts forever though, keeping track of where we were going with a GPS app, it became clear that we had turned off in a wrong direction.
So after managing to communicating this (saying Tagong isn’t sufficient, sayin it in five different ways isn’t enough, it still won’t be understood, as you’re not saying it in the exactly the right way), we were left in the side of the road with a “sorry” (no charge though).
So we started walking back, some 34 kilometers, trying to hitchhike. The first car to stop didn’t have room, but the driver asked if he and his friends, could take a group photo with us, which they did and drove off.
No, the last leg of the journey, came from hitchhiking with truck drivers. Plural, as the first truck driver to stop, only had room for one passenger, Mette. It didn’t take lobg though, for me to get a ride too. So, after a long and adventurous day, we arrived, 20 quai lighter (my truck driver wanted payment) instead of 140… Not bad.
So how to celebrate our arrival? In Tagong, a Tibetan city of 8000 people, there’s none the less a western owned and operated restaurant, where we downed a delicious yak burger with roasted potatoes.
What else is there to life?