Songpan, Sichuan


Before our trip to Tibet in summer 2011, we spent a few weeks in Sichuan Province. One of the highlights of our time there was a horseriding trek in the mountains around the town of Songpan. Although we told the tour guide that, having two small kids, we’d prefer a nice, gentle ride, it turned out to be a bit of an extreme sport, with our poor mounts sliding through mud on mountainsides that sloped thousands of feet downhill at acute angles. Not easy when carrying a toddler in a sling on my back! All in all, it was pretty darn nerve-wracking, but the kids loved it, and the scenery was awesome.

I also have to give a thumbs up here to Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel, at which we slept on three separate occasions on this trip. Located in Chengdu, it’s definitely one of the best hostels we’ve ever stayed in. The kids especially loved the kid’s bathroom in the family room, which featured a toddler-size Western toilet!

On a less cheerful note, the drive north from Chengdu to Songpan revealed quite a lot of damage from the 2008 earthquake that killed thousands of Sichuan residents. Submerged villages, highways sliding off the riverbank… Most of the villages, including Songpan, are brand-new, having all been rebuilt following the earthquake.