It’s really nice to greet our readers with the Qamdo Special in this issue! In order to better introduce the prefecture to you, I made a special trip there for a better understanding of it myself.
On July 21, I flew from Lhasa to Chengdu, where I joined the chief editor of the Tibetan edition of our magazine to fly to Qamdo. As we failed to book tickets for the next two days, we decided to take a sleeping coach scheduled to leave on the morning of the 23rd.
The coach left at 5:30 in the morning, and stopped at a small town for a breakfast bowl of noodles. At 15:30, we had just finished our 75-minute drive in the newly completed tunnel through the Erlangshan Mountain. Extending 8 km, the tunnel was dug at a cost of 400 million Yuan.
When day dawned on June 24, we found ourselves in Litang. Several tiny Chabas were begging for alms in the street, where trucks adorned with colorful signs for auspiciousness shuttled to and fro. We reached Batang at 16:00 and crossed the Jinshajiang River Bridge at 19:45. Three minutes later, we were in front of the Zubalung Animals Checkpoint. A Tibetan checked inside our coach but found no animals. Then, we were let into Tibet!
We turned left after crossing the Jinshajiang River Bridge. The road ahead was filled with so much mud and rocks that we were forced to wait for them to be removed. After some time, our driver lost patience, and joined the road maintenance workers in clearing the road.
This was a regular occurrence as we progressed. Before we fell asleep at 23:00, we had stopped to clear the road six times! Our coach continued its journey, as we had two drivers to work in tandem.
When we crossed the 3,908-meter Jor’wo Mountain, at the foot of which lies Zogung County, we saw a vast expanse of the Bamda Grassland dotted with white, purple and yellow flowers, black yaks, and white sheep. Flanking the road were tents woven with black yak hair, which are cool in summer and warm in winter, and are very durable. We sped along the road for three days, and the coach often stopped for us to take photos at our request.
On July 25, we entered Qamdo, reaching the Qamdo Hotel at 19:25. Built in 1985 as one of the 43 small and medium-sized projects undertaken with aid from Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin (which are municipalities directly under the Central Government) and six provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Sichuan, Guangdong, Shandong and Fujian. Refurnished recently, it is one of the best tourist hotels in the prefecture.
For the celebration of the 50th anniversary of its liberation, Qamdo Prefecture is going all out to upgrade its infrastructure. It faces the four counties of Sichuan-Dege, Baiyu, Shiqu and Batang-across the Jinshajiang River in the east, neighbors Deqen County of Yunnan Province in the southeast, abuts Nyingchi in the southwest, and borders Nagqu in the northwest and Yushu of Qinghai in the north.
Covering an area of 108,600 square km, or 8.9 percent of the total area of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Qamdo Prefecture exercises jurisdiction over 11 counties, 142 townships (including 24 towns), and 1,622 villages. It is home to 21 ethnic groups including Tibetan, Han, Hui, Zhuang, Naxi, Lhoba, Moinba, Bai and Deng. Of its total population numbering 600,000, 98.26 percent are Tibetan.
Historically, Qamdo was mentioned as "Kham" or "Kamodo". Kham was the area outside the U-Tsang. It refers to area east of the Dainda Mountain of Tibet, neighboring Xichang, Ya’an and Aba in the east, Yunnan and Myanmar in the south, Tibet in the west, Yushu and Golog of Qinghai in the north. Song of Gangsters was much heard there:
"I ride the horse carefree, An enjoyment beyond the imagination of headmen sitting on their thrones.
I roam around aimlessly, Staying in area where there is the blue sky." The Kham area features majestic mountains, picturesque rivers, and a vast expanse of grassland. People living in this part of the world are mentioned as Khamba people, and they tend to be strongly built. There are many stories much told in Tibet related to the Khamba people. The stories included in this Qamdo Special will take our readers deep into the heart of Qamdo Prefecture. We hope you will like them.