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Yùshù (Jyekundo)/China

Introducing Yùshù (Jyekundo)

Up until the spring of 2010, Yùshù (Jyekundo is the name of the town itself while Yùshù is the prefecture) and its surrounding areas gained notoriety as one of Qīnghǎi’s best new adventure-travel destinations. Yùshù, with its remote location and hardy Tibetan population, was dotted with dozens of impressive monasteries, famous pilgrim sites and gorgeous wooded valleys that cried out for exploration. All that changed on 14 April 2010, when a 7.1-magnitutude earthquake devastated the town, killing 2698 people (although some believe the true figure across the whole region to be more like 20,000).

After the earthquake most of Jyekundo’s buildings were pulled down and an army of construction workers arrived to rebuild the city. Locals were housed in government-issued blue tents, giving the place the look and feel of a refugee camp (and a very dusty, noisy one at that). There are plenty of basic restaurants around but other facilities used by travellers – including hotels, banks and internet cafes – are in short supply.

Although the pace of rebuilding has been quick, we recommend travellers avoid Yùshù until the reconstruction phase is mostly complete; that could happen by around 2014 (but 2015 is a better bet if you are making travel plans). You should check the latest, either with hostels in Xīníng, or online through Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum (www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree).