While the Drung Valley is politically part of China, it is geographically and ethnically part of Northern Burma. To get to the valley from the rest of China, one has to cross the high mountains of the Gaoligong range, which down South form the border between China and Burma.
This is the highest point in the road. The pass is covered with snow during winter, meaning the valley is connected to the rest of China for only about 4 months every year! You can reach it from Burma all year round, though.
The road from Gongshan in the Salween (Nu Jiang) basin to Kongdang in the Drung valley (the Dulog Jiang basin) is 96 kilometres long - two thirds of which passes throuh complete wilderness - nothing but mountains and Jungle. The road was completed in 1999 - before that, access to the valley was only by foot!
The rough road conditions mean that it's a full day's drive to get to the valley - 10 hours to cover 96 kilometres.
Before the road was built, people trekked from China to the Drung Valley via the Tea Horse Caravan Trail. That route was only openned in 1961, so in essence before that year the valley was disconnected from the rest of China! It was probably the last area to be incorporated into Mainland China after the communist "Liberation" in 1949.
The Dulog Jiang - that's Chinese for "Single Dragon River". The road follows the route of the river all the way down to Burma
A tributary to the Dulong Jiang
A beatiful Drung village. The Drung people are known as "Dulong" in China and as "Rawang" in Burma. Essentially, it's just different names for the same group of people.
In the Valley I saw some of the most beatiful butterflies I have ever seen in my life
Plenty of beatiful waterfalls along the way
A look back at Bapo, one of the three (along with Kongdang and Maku) "major" villages in the valley
Despite the remoteness of the area, the missionaries were able to make it here... Many of the Drung are Christians, being converted early in the 20th century
The road hugs the bed of the Dulog Jiang river
A look back at the road taken
And a look at the road still ahead
The view from the top of the pass: behind me is the village of Maku, another "major" settlement with a small army base and a school.
Ahead is the road to Qinlandang, the last village in China. The photo doesn't really reveal how breathtaking the view is
First look at Qinlandang, quite a picturesque village
I got lost on my way down from the pass to Qinlandang, and had to spend the night at the camp of a road maintainence crew. This young Drung accompanied me the day after to the village. A road that should have taken about an hour to complete, took me a day and a half!
First view of the Moon Waterfall - it is situated only 10 minutes walk from Qinlandang
A sign in Burmese and Chinese. Does anyone know the meaning and can translate?
A typical bridge
Believe it or not, but at 120 metres this waterfall is the highest in China! I imagine that it is probably also the most remote one...
The road to Burma literally passes under the waterfall - can you notice the trail going up into the waterfall and going out from the other side? Crossing the waterfall took about a minute - the most frightening, most exhilirating, and most wet minute of my life!
This is it! The China - Burma border. I wonder what made the Burmese and the Chinese governments to mark the border at this exact point? It's not as if there's any difference between the way I already passed to the the one that lied ahead.
It is amazing to see that between those two xenophobic states, this small little tablet is all there is! Again, the photo doesn't reveal how surreal this place is - the border stone, and all around there's nothing but jungle...
Bye bye China and welcome to Burma! Photos of the Burmese side in the second album.