Nov 17 2009

Explore 2009 at the Royal Geographical Society


Rough Edge were fortunate enough to be at the RGS’s Explore weekend, which was fantastic. So many people with so many amazing and creative ideas, not just about their expeditions and journeys, but also how to tell people about them and how to make each of them have a positive impact.

More than one of the main speakers talked aout travelling with humility – this is what we try to do; from now we will ingrain it into the Rough Edge philosophy.

If anyone asks you to Explore another year and you are at all interested in the world, whether that is China, or anywhere – just GO!

While the rest of London walked or drove past the doors with the gloom of winter nights and global depression hanging over them, the RGS was a bright shining light of optimism, where anything was possible.

Thanks to all the wonderful people we met and we will be in touch to see how these brilliant new connections can evolve.

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Jul 19 2009

Going downtown

Trying not be too hasty I head away from the hostel advised that the best way back to town is to flag down a truck on the road – right next to the mountain lodge and under heavy, dusty, noisy construction (adding to the delight). I don’t much fancy a dusty truck ride and instead find tracks and trails that lead me across the hill finally back to the road and into town. Again the views are rewarding and in every direction the scenery is amazing. In downtown Deqin I find hotel – a clean one 🙂 It is time to pause and think about what to do next… (getting back to Deqin 19 July)

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Jul 19 2009

Dizzy in Deqin

Deqin (pron Durr Chin) is already at an altitude of 3350m I was staying in a mountain lodge higher up the road towards the Tibetan border (see next post). And so to the first Deqin Don’t. Don’t rush in. With the idea I would climb above the hostel to take in even more breathtaking views, the views took my breath and I had to take myself down again. With the little time available to me as this trip nears its end, I believed I could do more than I could and ended up feeling decidely dodgy. My best advice for this most awe inspiring of places is to plan a few days of nothing when you first get here, then once acclimatised the terrain is yours to discover. Nonetheless, despite my haste and paying the price, I was treated to some amazing sights in the hills above Deqin, the best of which was when the mighty Mei Li Xue Shan (6740m) revealed her sacred peak through the cloud. This mountain has never been climbed (in the last attempt in 1991, 17 Japanese mountaineers lost their lives). But enough, here are the pictures and there will be more because this place has to be visited again, it is awesome. (Dizzy above Deqin 18/19 July)

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Jul 17 2009

At the end in the middle

P1030958At Tina’s I reach the end of the official TLG trail and here it’s possible to leave bags and take a hike – down deep into the gorge itself to see the Tiger Leaping Stone (allegedly a tiger once lept across the gorge hence the name). This is a great chance to see first hand the thunderous power of the Yangtze as it is forced through this the Middle Rapid. There are two paths to go down, the ladder path and the wending path. I choose the ladder path for descent and the wending path to come back up again. The paths have been built through the rock by the villagers and they ask you to pay Y10 to go in each direction. Fair enough. It is a long way down and the home made handrails and precipitous rocky steps are not for the faint hearted – this is much more challenging than anything up above on the main trail, but it is fun. At one point there is a sign with two options, labelled: “Dangerous Ladder” and “Safe Path” – it tickles me. Down below and health and safety haven’t even got a look-in, just a roughly made stick-and-pole barrier between me and the raging river. It is quite refreshing to be forced to take extra care where you step! Anyhow, apart from the masses who have heaved their way down for a look too, it is an awesome spectacle of raging exploding water. The pictures here only capture a fraction of the drama, there will be video once I am better connected. This is a fitting end to an amazing place. Time now to move on. (TLG Middle Rapid 14 July)

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Jul 17 2009

It’s not really halfway

Setting off from Halfway Guesthouse fueled by bananas and weird coffee it is only a couple of hours towards the Middle Rapid and the end of the official TLG trail. nonetheless the scenery remains captivating and it is impossible not to stop and record some of these amazing scenes. At Tina’s Guesthouse there is the chance to eat and rest. It makes sense to get here early, as there is a 2-3 hour trail leading into the bottom of the gorge to see the Tiger Leaping Stone and experience first hand the amazing power of the river as it explodes through the narrowing gap. Here are the shots on the way from Halfway (it’s more like 3/4) to Tina’s. (TLG day two 15 July)

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Jul 16 2009

Loads to tell

There are lots of great stories and loads of amazing pictures from the past few days, but I will have to be patient and load them when I have a reliable connection. Here in Shangri La the pace is slow and the people are very friendly. This is the first place where you can really feel the Tibetan influence. Off up a mountain tomorrow, then on to the most North Westerly tip of Yunnan – Deqin, the furthest point of this trip. So sorry to disappoint with no pics since Sunday, but this computer takes 15 mins just to load the blog, so full stories will have to wait. Look out for “the grumpy farmer and his hovel” “my indignant American trekking partner”, “Join the hoards and trek the gorge”, “How not to organise transport”, ÄWESOME water”and picturesque Shangri La. Take it easy. (Zhong Dian 16 July)

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Jul 9 2009

Dali bye

Final day in Dali and the awesome Cangshan (4112m) was looking amazing. Oh and I couldn’t resist the sleeping man – it’s a pretty laid back place. (On leaving Dali 8 July)

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Jul 1 2009

Dali High

At 2000m Dali is already quite high. Yesterday when I arrived it was pounding with rain and there was nothing to see. In addition I foolishly left my camera on the express bus from Kunming… Thank god for Tao in Kunming and Peng here in Dali. 11 phone calls later and Peng was taking me back to Dali new town (I’m in the old town) on a bus to retrieve the camera from the lost property officer at the bus station. Between them they solved something that would have been impossible for me. Tao tells me I need to give one of the Rough Edge T shirts to the bus driver on my return to Kunming – he’s going to organise this.

Luckily this morning the rain had cleared and as I stepped out of the courtyard of Peng’s climbers’ guesthouse (bunkhouse) I saw the mountains for the first time – rising steeply above the streets of this amazing little walled city with pockets of cloud sitting in their hollows up to a dizzy 4116m. It is truly breathtaking and I can’t wait to get up there and discover more.

Now I am busy finding a partner to come with me and the first step is to move from Peng’s place to the Birds Nest – a small hostel where people can speak English and with a very wonderful relaxed Tibetan feel. I’m writing this along with a couple of earlier catch-up posts from the free internet cafe at the China Youth Hostel (I expect I’ll be back here during my time in Dali)

(Dali China Youth Hostel free internet cafe 1 July)

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