A short bus ride brought us from Tagong to Kangding, the capital of the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (click here for a map). The city is crammed into a narrow river valley and represents the boundary between the Tibetan Highlands and the Chinese Mainland. Since many centuries traders came here to exchange their goods, leading to a mix of different cultures. Nowadays, Kangding serves as the jumping-off point for journeys into Tibet. The town itself has only few sights, including the Nanwu Temple of the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect as well as the Jingang Temple of the Nyingma (Red Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. During our visit, both monasteries were under construction, but we still enjoyed our visits – especially, the fantastic, mystic halls of the Jingang Temple. Another popular pastime is to take the cable car up Paoma Shan. Nevertheless, there is little reason for the ride except to enjoy the view. Once you are up on the hill, you can either pay another entrance fee to visit a temple, hike back down, or return the way you came.
We enjoyed half a day in Kangding before hopping on the last bus of our journey, which brought us to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. Once there, our first stop was the famous Chengdu Panda Base!