白云间有座白空寺 White Stone Temple above the Clouds
- 出行天数/2 天
Tonghua Township lies in a valley between two walls of insurmountable snow mountains, on the way from Chengdu to Lixian County.
On the mountain on the north side of the valley are eight villages of Qiang People, which together are marked as "Xishan Villages" on the map, and known as "Daxishan" (Great Xishan) locally. But I'd rather call them "Xishan Qiang People's Villages". The road on the mountain is quite narrow with plenty of sharp turns, where one car can hardly pass another without any collision.
We visited the highest village on the mountain on the first day of the holiday of Labour's Day. It took a local driver, who was quite familiar with the road conditions, 1 hour to drive us from the bottom of the valley to the highest village at EL. 2800m. (It costed RMB 120 Yuan/car from Taiping Qiang People's Village to the highest village.)
Tonghua Township in the valley
A view of the mountains on the opposite side of the valley, on the way to the village
At the highest village at EL. 2800m, horses and yaks were seen wandering and eating grass at ease.
A storm came suddenly.
The rain stopped in 15 min. Clouds went apart, revealing a light golden ray of sunshine before sun set.
于是第二天的照片分成了两个部分：A. 旧羌寨；B. 白空寺。
My companion decided to climb to White Stone Temple on the very top of the mountain, with some friends we just met from the Yangs, the family that provided us a place to erect a tent to avoid possible rains at night.
Instead of going with them, I chose to stay in the old village to take some interesting photos.
So the photos of the second day consist of two parts: A. The Qiang People's Old Village; B. White Stone Temple.
A. 旧羌寨 The Qiang People's Old Village
The village was badly damaged in the earthquake in 2008. Most of the houses were deserted, with no roofs, only walls or half walls standing alone. Worked by rains and winds for several years, they were in an even worse condition, looking quite dangerous. Now only three or four families still live there.
The following is a side view of a typical watchtower of Qiang People. No one knows exactly when it was built. The local saying is that it has been there for generations.
A great crack can be seen on the tower from a long distance, which was left by the earthquake. The tower inclines towards one side. How long can it stand further? No one can answer.
A path wanders from the grass behind the watchtower to White Stone Temple.
B. 白空寺 White Stone Temple
White Stone Temple, called "Baikongsi" in Chinese, stands on the top of the mountain right below white clouds.
The second daughter of the Yangs told me that it is called Baikongsi because one sees only white clouds and snow mountains around when standing at the height of the temple.
("Baikong" means white and empty. Given the fact that this temple was built for the worship of white stones, which is typical among Qiang People, I translated its name into "White Stone Temple". Qiang People believe in a lot of gods, which have no physical images but are represented by white stones.)
Believing in the divinity of the temple, natives told us some taboos about it. For instance, kids below the age of 12 are forbidden from entering the temple. So are women who've got their periods.
We left at 4 p.m. and arrived at the long distance bus station in Wenchuan County at 6. The station was closed. We got on a bus that passed by the county at the cost of RMB 80/person and finally arrived in Chengdu at 9 p.m.
路线图（请忽略画功） Route map：
A：最高的寨子。 The highest village
B：白空寺。 White Stone Temple (Baikongsi)
C：山路起始点的过河小铁桥。 Small steel bridge at the start of the road at the foot of the mountain.
D：通化乡。 Tonghua Township
Do blow your horn when you are approaching turns of the road!
Please respect the customs and culture of the natives. Please value their products of labor and hospitality.
If you see a small plot surrounded by walls, especially a wall at the front, with one or two trees and block piles below the trees at the center of the plot, please make a detour, because it is probably a tomb!
There are refuse storage areas in the form of small green buildings along the road and in the villages. Please do not drop litter!
Water is a rare resource on the mountain. Please take some water with you and do not waste water!
Please do not linger near any deserted building for it may be hazardous.
Please do take care if staying in tents at the top of the mountain. There might be beasts!