Jun 21 2010

Breakfast outside? Too big windy

The March trip to Yunnan province was a fantastic opportunity to see the province again and how glorious it was πŸ™‚

Rough Edge took a group of five from the UK, travelling to Kunming for a couple of decompression days, followed by our arrival in Dali (after a hot bus ride of 4 hours). Once again the delightful Bird Bar was our home for a few nights and that was wonderful and chilled. We took in a day on the Cloud Pass to acclimatise ourselves at an altitude of 2400m.

In Dali we ate mostly outdoors, the temperatures were gentle and the air was sweet. The only times we didn’t eat al fresco were when our restaurant host was to tell us “no, too big windy!”

From Dali we headed once again to the oasis that is the Carnation Inn in Lijiang. Among the trinkets and tourist trash we planned our trek along Tiger Leaping Gorge.

And after a couple more hours in a bus, there we were heading into the gorge again and arriving at the extremely friendly Naxi Guest House at sunset – to some awe inspiring views across the back of the Jade Dragon Mountain range – truly wonderful πŸ™‚

Our three days in the gorge also took in Halfway House, where the new accommodation is now complete – and very comfortable to boot.

On the final day, we took loads of video and pictures in the middle gorge and were driven out by micro-bus on a scary trip under roadworkers blasting a wider road through the rock. (Health & Safety regulations haven’t really reached Yunnan yet!)

Finally, refreshed by a night back at the Carnation Inn, we found ourselves back in Kunming and reconnected with Melodie (owner of the International Nail & Beauty Salon & a huge help in securing our accommodation on day one two weeks before).

Flying back everyone agreed it had been an action packed trip – lots of laughter, loads of welcoming and friendly people and a host of new and different experiences and sights πŸ™‚

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Peter (one of our trip members) and his company Gripped Communications for making this short video of our Yunnan 2010 trip – take a look, it should give you a good feel for the place.

Be happy.

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics China 2010. DofE Gold Expedition. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.


Jul 12 2009

A route with no map

I have met Peter at breakfast in the Well Bistro. We bumped into each other first in Dali and here he is again. He is American and he’s been teaching English in Taipei. With three months off before a new post in Beijing he is travelling around. Peter is keen to avoid taking a bus with everyone else to Tiger Leaping Gorge too and we agree to do the trip together. He will come to my meeting with Lily.

Lily is very helpful indeed. She shows us a hand drawn map of the area around the Jade Dragon Mountain and points out a route from Baisha up to a lake called Wenhai (3100m) and then over a ridge (3800m) dropping down towards the road and ultimately the usual start point for the gorge. We discuss this trip and she assures us we need a guide. Maybe we can do it with the help of her map I ask? No she replies, these maps are just for the use of her guides. Oh. Anyway, I think, maybe going with a guide wouldn’t be so bad, so how much will this 3 day trip be? Her price is a little high for me I explain the following day, but she is welcome to come and explore the mountains in the UK anytime, borrow my maps and if she needs me to guide πŸ™‚

With Lily’s route in mind (and now delayed by a further day) I put on my poshest English demeanour and head to the Grand Lijiang Hotel business centre in the hope I’ll be able to print google maps. It is time consuming and frustrating, but it gives me what I need. Peter meanwhile has visited Chang (Joachim’s helpful Chinese friend in Lijiang – but who speaks no English). Chang adds helpful advice to our route including that we will doubtless find a guide if we want one en route. It is Saturday and this has taken most of the day, but we will head off on Sunday – with bags of helpful advice, tips on where to stay, where to find guides and even maps of a scale where you can read the contours. Thanks Lily and thanks Chang. (Lijiang 11 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 7 2009

A big step forward

OK, so after all the hurly burly of the last few days it was time to get serious and sort out some of the why, when and how… It’s brilliant now because after a long 3 way telephone call involving me, Tao in Kunming and “mountain man” Peng here in Dali we have cracked it. Peng is going to be the advisor and partner here in Yunnan, suggesting routes, working out logistics and being on call to bring everything together in a professional way. This is great because you couldn’t find anyone more knowledgable about the mountains of Yunnan than Peng. I am delighted he will be working with us. We both understand the need for a third person in between us to make sure we can all understand each other, Tao is keen, but may not have time, we’ll see. A great day, a great result, our true mountain partner in Yunnan. Thanks Tao, thanks Peng! (Dali 7 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 6 2009

A truck, some mud, Little Dog and me

It takes nearly two hours and seemingly endless telephone negotiation (mostly by Xiao Bing with interceptions from the very loud and forceful mountain warden’s wife, the most notable of which, “no not you, you fool, your father!” when demanding someone sends a vehicle to take us all down the 2 hour mud road). Eventually we hear the reassuring sound of a horn and we head back up to the road.
Great.
They’ve only gone and got the truck stuck in the mud. Bloody marvellous. It’s raining again.
There is much heaving, huffing, puffing and general to do.
Just to recap, now the party going down the mountain has grown still further: Here’s the cast:
Xiao Bing, the Master, DanDan, ShweShwe, the mountain warden’s wife, the mountain warden’s son (in a basket), Little Dog and me. Oh and the three guys who have arrived and got the truck stuck.
We get the truck free, we all board. Strangely although DanDan and I are paying for this ride, it is he and I along with Xiao Bing, the Master and Little Dog who have to travel in the back of the truck. Anyhow off we set. Bouncing (a lot) through the rain and mist, heading for the foot of the mountain. Along the way Little Dog finds a safe haven and rests on my boot. At the small village half way down we are given sweets to keep us going – the Master takes charge of doling these out. It is a strange journey and it takes ages. Little Dog cradled at my feet and the Master standing with his brass staff at the front of the back of the truck (if you know what I mean) looking through the gap above the truck’s cab. It seems endless, but finally we are down and on the level road alongside the lake. Here we are going to find the boat to take us all to Dali – hurrah!
PS – there was no boat. We waited another hour in a village and ended up back on a public bus – having said goodbye to the mountain warden’s wife and the mountain warden’s son (in a basket). The bus took us back to Dali – and we all said our goodbyes, me, Xiao Bing, DanDan, ShweShwe, the Master and Little Dog (in a bag). The end of an extraordinary little trip. God I’m tired. (Dali 5 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 6 2009

A change of plan

It is night and it starts to rain. Then it gets heavier until I think even my awesome little tent will give way. The rain doesn’t stop and the wind becomes stronger. In deep slumber about 8am and still very tired, I hear ‘Halloβ€˜. It is the Master and DanDan (who is staying with his girlfriend at the Master’s place). They have come to check we are OK. Put off by the incessant pounding rain I stay in my tent, until after half an hour I know I will have to get up. They have been chatting with Xiao Bing and as I appear they are just about ready to leave. I could have done with some more sleep – maybe the rain would have stopped before I had to come out and face it. Xiao Bing later agrees, he wasn’t ready for earloy morning visitors either – but their concern was well meant. We busy ourselves with food – more boil in the bag and some tea (PG tips from home, in the province famous for it’s black tea – hahaha). The rain calms down and we pack everything away and soon the Master reappears. I have taken a look over the ridge nearby on my walk yesterday evening and I can see that if we head in a S. Westerly direction over the hill we will hit the lake. Originally our plan was to walk from here onto the neighbouring Chicken Foot Mountain itself, but it is clear (or rather not) that the rain is here to stay, so there will be nothing to see. The Master says he and the two staying with him also want to head down the mountain, but he advises against my chosen route, saying it is very likely we will lose our way. He is insistent we come down with him. The two staying with him DanDan and his girlfriend ShweShwe are keen to reach Dali during the day. So we agree to all go together off the mountain. Soon, we are back at the Master’s house, he has a small dog that he calls Little Dog. He gets all his monk stuff together in a rucsac and brings a brass staff with him. The dog is coming with us too, in a bag, with a small sachet of milk powder in the bottom to keep him happy. So we start to trek down the mountain and after about an hour and a half we raech the mountain warden’s house again… Here we are going to call for transport. I have a feeling this will be another epic. (Mu Xiang Ping 5 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 6 2009

Strollin in the sky

High above Dali is the Cloud Pass. At 2600m it runs for 13K between (conveniently) a chair lift and a cable car (don’t laugh). As an acclimatisation day I took the (scary) chair lift to go up. At the top, beyond a temple-cum-nick nack market a path winds up the hill to the Higherland Inn. Here I found the helpful woman who gave me a map (of sorts) and sold me some mixed nuts. So I set off along a beautifully kept pass weaving through astonishing gorges high in the mountain. (Cloud Pass, Dali 3 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 2 2009

New nest

I moved to the Birds Nest yesterday evening and took a couple of snaps. It is extremely basic, but a couple of the people there speak English and it seems to attract interesting and relaxed people, maybe because the atmosphere is really laid back.

The place is also higher up the hill at the western end of the town, so there are good views to the mountains beyond. It was perfectly still last night and I slept brilliantly. At less than four pounds a night, this is great. (Dali 2 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 2 2009

PC challenge

When you switch to a mac you forget how to use a PC. When the only thing available is a PC you try to remember how it works. Slightly more confusing here.

(Still raining, still in the YH internet cafe – it’s free. Dali 2 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce