Discovery of the upper Mekong valley near Deqin

The upper Mekong stretches from airy heights of the Tibetan high plateau in west China through bizarre cliff and gorge landscapes into the north of Yunnan.

On the further reconnaissance of this part of the Mekong valley, this time with a 4×4 pick-up truck instead a motorbike, we are looking for to us unknown side valleys and new spectacular views. The road from Jiabe, our tibetan homestay, leads us along the Mekong towards the south. The expanse of the mountains, the depth of the gorges distinguish this special panorama. We also take this route on our South of the Clouds Tour, heading north though.

But we discover not only new views down the valley: From the river bank of the Mekong we see gold shining monastery roofs all the way up a side valley. Our interest awoke! The journey to the temple is vertiginous and leads past dozens of hairpin bends. For a 5 meter pick-up truck this means turning into the bend, going back a little, turning in a bit more and drive up again; over and over again. Because of that the ride lasts about 30 min.

The first part of the road is concrete (yes, concrete and we were lucky that it was dry) and leads past small villages until we need to continue on a nasty dirt road. First milestones though provide a fantastic view upon the valley.This buddhist monastery under construction is sitting enthroned on about 3000m above a valley approximately 25km south of Yunlin. The monastery belongs to the Nyingma, one of the for buddhist sects. All aroung houses are gathering, in which monks and pilgrims will find a place to stay in the future.

The view towards the west is decidedly heavenly. The future residents are lucky to experience this natural spectacle every day. While during the day the sun provides quite comfortable temperatures, the night in such altitudes gets really cold.

The view towards the south enfolds a marvelous panorama of the eastern Himalaya with its numerous peaks and ridges.

Also the view from the inside of the temple reveals the vertiginous depth of the Mekong valley. The idea of opening these shutters in the morning and starting with such a view into the day is truly delightful.

A dwelling house above the temple becomes part of the nature like a puzzle piece and awakens desire for own places of rest. By the way, where is the old Kung Fu Master?

The roof of the temple is corresponding with the typical tibetan buddhism and reflects the meditative atomsphere up there.

The way back to the valley is not less vertiginous, but again stresses the difference in altitude of this landscape clearly.