Disappointed with Deqin the overambitious capital city in the area, we made a quick detour to Feilai Si, a more compelling, smaller, and less populated town. The draw card: Mount Kawa Karpo, the highest mountain in north-west Yunnan which reaches an astonishing 6740m resides not far from Feilai Si and is said to be best viewed from the towns cliff edge; and Mingyong Glacier China’s lowest ice drift.
Glued to the window for the entire thirty minute drive, I was utterly mesmerised by the mountainous landscape which lay beyond it. Finally stepping out of the taxi I could immediately feel the cool, thin air encompassing me. The clouds had settled on the road cloaking the petite 100m long town in a wispy white haze. On one side of the road is a row of small home-style restaurants and basic hotels and on the other sits the Feilai Si Temple which hesitantly clings to the edge of a shear escarpment. Rugged up to the nines we were drawn to the edge which was teaming with colourful prayer flags frantically flapping in the icy breeze. A steep green slope falls away from the railings into a white abyss. There was a floor to this valley somewhere and a river but it remained out of sight. In the far distance, resilient and desperately grasping onto the mountains, more clouds shield the grandeur of Kawa Karpo’s peak while remaining suspended like a halo above it’s smaller sisters. Standing there in awe, we saw the clouds shift and release glimpses of new mountain ranges further afield. The infinite edge of the world seemed to unfold and retreat in front of our eyes.
Interrupted by ‘Eee ooh’s’ we are brought back to our immediate surroundings where a drove of un-intimidated donkeys were grazing on freshly budding flowers who had been brave enough to grow on the cliffs edge. Chilled to the core we took some snaps and moved on to explore the rest of the temple. Tall, white Stupas lined the centre of the platform and Tibetan fire cauldrons flickered nervously in the corners, obviously threatened by the imposing elements. It was extraordinary feeling as though we had reached the end of the world whereas in reality we were on route to Lhasa in Tibet. Either way we were in a dreamland set up high amongst the clouds.
Nestled high above the Mekong valley and secluded at an altitude of 3300 metres Feilai Si is a single-lane town designed for passing pilgrims.
It is situated in the far north west of Yunnan Province, China
From Deqin take a taxi from the bus station for 7.5Yuan each, wait for it to fill and enjoy the half hour scenic tour.
The skinny town is a string of basic hotels or homes that have spare rooms for sale.
From Feilai Si you can make a day hike to Mingyong glacier or multiple day adventures to Yubeng Village and Kawa Karpo.