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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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.

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.

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

Sep 23 2009

It’s all about balance

Yesterday was an equinox. An equal number of daylight and nightime hours all over the world. Yesterday was also the day the DofE signed off Rough Edge as an Approved Activity Provider. On a day of perfect balance.

It has been a long journey so far, but it has all been worth it and it is fantastic to be here. Now the even harder work starts.

Thanks again to everyone who is involved so far – this is truly only something for those committed to doing some good and there’s a lot of us already, so spread the word and let’s watch it grow.

And now here’s our first official sign from DofE… Now all we need is an office window to stick it onto 🙂 (On gaining DofE AAP status 23 September 2009)


Rough Edge Adventure Logistics

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

Jul 28 2009

And once more back again

Isn’t it always brilliant to arrive back home? Such a warm feeling.

So, Yunnan is incredible, but now the real work starts (not just the washing), we have to put together the right programme, with the right people, in the right places ready for 2010.

If you are interested, the blog will continue as plans become realities. Meantime thanks for reading. There’s loads more I could say, but it’s best saved for another time after some reflection – it’s a bit soon for a summary today. (on arriving back in the UK 28 July)And once more back again

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

Jul 28 2009

From here to there and back again

From here to there and back again3

Busy Shanghai and it’s amazing energy. The city is racing to finish loads of roads, metro lines and buildings before the 2010 World Expo there next April. It is an incredible sight and it’s very noisy. This is the first time I have ever seen a live decibel counter in the street…
Then landing in Hong Kong there was surreal mist over the hills of Lantau island, it was 31 celsius, the city was busy rounding off its weekend, I was marking time before Monday night’s flight home. I’m glad I can sleep on flights 🙂 (Bits of the long journey back 25/26 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition.

Jul 28 2009

Schoolboy errors flashing lights and policemen

DON’T leave a gas canister in your rucsac when you check in for a flight. All the check in counters in the row let out a piercing alarm and red lights flashed on all the scanning machines as I tried to check in at Kunming airport to fly to Shanghai. Resolving the situation was very friendly and not difficult, except there was a lot of paperwork the clerk had to fill in, oh and the police had to come to put their stamp on it too, which took a while. Eventually though I was checked in and all clear.
DO remember to take your penknife out of your hand luggage and put it in your check in luggage before you try and pass through security. Imagine the surprise on the face of the check in clerk when I returned 10 minutes later with the smallest bag I had with me containing just my penknife. “Knife?” She asked. “Hmm” I nodded. No alarms and no lights this time (thankfully). Just a smile and a shrug.

Schoolboy errors flashing lights and policemen

The best surprise however was on arrival in Shanghai. Having picked my humungous rucsac (sans gas) off the belt, I honestly thought the small bag may not have survived the competition, surrounded by daunting bigger bags and muscular suitcases… but minutes later there it was heading towards me on the belt, my penknife returned to me! (The picture of the policemen is not very revealing, but I didn’t want to cause any trouble and so took it with my phone, as they were walking away.  (Kunming to Shanghai 24 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce

Jul 21 2009

On and off the bus

Heading south from Shangri La about an hour into the journey there is a loud bang. The driver slows to a halt and his sidekick steps down from the bus to see what has happened. The bus has had a blowout on one of the rear wheels. Thinking about it now, I am quite glad it happened on the long straight flat road across the plain from Zhong Dian and not in the mountains through the pass down to the Haba range. Anyhow, there is much discussion, one incredibly small looking jack to hold the wheel aloft (people still in the bus and free to come and go both in and out of the bus throughout)… It takes about 20 minutes to fix and we are on the way again – heading south towards Lijiang and for me the place I am to be reunited with some of my travel baggage – left behind before Wenhai and the trek to Tiger Leaping Gorge… Onwards. (On the bus from Zhong Dian to Lijiang 21 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce

Jul 20 2009

Driving sarf

With only four days to go before my flight leaves Kunming over 800km away and knowing that the first part of this mammoth journey south is back across the awesome pass, six hours to the main road at Shangri La, I decide that the best plan is to leave Deqin and devote the right amount of time to this place on another visit. This trip has all been about making connections and throughout I have been blessed with extraordinary help from so many people. None less than Lily in Shangri La. As far as bus tickets are concerned I have missed the bus, but one call to Lily and an hour later she has found a reliable driver to deliver me safely back to Shangri La on the first leg of the homeward trip. He will come and find me at the hotel and we will head off across the mountains directly.

When he arrives, Dave already strikes me as a very jolly and helpful person (sorry to call him Dave but in the few hours we know each other he only says his Chinese name once when I ask and I promptly forget it – and anyway I’d have little or no idea how to spell it). Dave seems to be a minor celebrity as we head out of town, stopping to pick up a couple of bottles of ice tea for the journey and for Dave to gobble down three dumplings and we’re off. We are in a relatively smart and seemingly well maintained Passat – all is good. I put on my seatbelt. We head out of town up the dust-under-random-construction road and the sun and the mountains and the sheer bigness of it all combine into the drive of a lifetime. (On leaving Deqin 20 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedtion recce

Jul 19 2009

Marmite and washing

It is a beautiful sunny day. I wish I had loads more time, first to acclimatise to this place then to go exploring all around. I consider how many days I could possibly stay and it is clear there are not many. I am still at least 24 hours travelling time away from Kunming (that’s a lot of buses 🙂 On the other hand this is an incredible place. But again, I can always come back and it would be more fun with a few friends. But what about the views from the other mountains behind the town? Eventually I use marmite (that’s thinking man’s vegemite for any Ozzies reading) and reach a conclusion. (Deqin 19 July pm)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce

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)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce