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 17 2009

Hang onto your seats – or to Shangri La in minibus

P1030967Once the middle rapid excursion is over it is time to head out of the gorge and make tracks towards Shangri La, the next destination on the road north through Yunnan. There is a wondeful Chinese woman and her french boyfriend, she has everyone organised to share a minibus, the idea is great, we all save a bit of money and we share. Then an Israeli guy gets involved and has ideas about how this plan could get better. You know the kind of thing, one person who previously had everything taped and another person comes along and just needs to fill the airwaves and create confusion because his/her idea simply must be better than the original (perfect) plan. Whatever – it means an extra hour of waiting around. Finally we’re off though – out of the gorge and soon on the road to Shangri La. An awesome trip for views. (On the road to Shangri La 15 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce

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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)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.P1030941

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition reccewww-1


Jul 17 2009

Insperation welcome

A very warm welcome awaits me at the Halfway Guesthouse, where the view from the room is awesome. It is packed full of westerners, but the view is magnificent and Frankie and his family are exceptional hosts. Michael Palin wrote about the view from the toilet here – it is amazing πŸ™‚ – he was looking at the Haba snow mountain though, and in front of you is the Jade Dragon snow mountain (Haba’s what you’re sitting on on this side of the gorge) – maybe they’ve moved the toilet in the meantime. Showered and refreshed it’s time to get some insperation… (Halfway guesthouse 14 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 17 2009

Gorgeous hordes

P1030801 OK so Tiger Leaping Gorge is not the most edgy place on earth, but even minutes after setting off from the Naxi’s it was easy to see why this has become a backpackers’ right of passage. It is a stupendous sight – in almost every direction, nearly all the time. First opened up in c.1986 the trail is well defined with some steep sections, particularly as you climb on day one, as I did, up the 26 bends and over the ‘peak’ (2690m) here you are treated to spectacular views of the Jade Dragon mountain range across the gorge (you trek on the Haba mountain range side, the gorge is this amazingly narrow fault between the two). Through sections of forest and lush bamboo growth the sound of crickets fills your ears. Lower down there are small ‘swarms’ (what is the collective noun for butterflies?) of small purple butterflies. Higher up their black and white big brothers rule. At turns you can hear the pounding, gushing thunder of the mighty Yangtze below. There are, of course, lots of other people walking the trail – mostly westerners, but the space is enough that you don’t need to feel in a crowd and a short 5 minute break for water or a biscuit puts you back in your own space – surrounded by truly inspiring scenery. (Naxi to Halfway day one TLG 14 July)P1030811

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 17 2009

Into the gorge as darkness falls

So we folded, but there was still a tiring end of day climb, from Qitao first onto the start of the gorge trail, then a solid 9k to reach the Naxi Family Guesthouse, a perfect point to set off from on the gorge trail proper in the morning. Peter strode ahead up this early section of Tiger Leaping Gorge – keen, as he said, not to be walking in the dark (there were moments when I wondered if he meant US walking in the dark or just HIM walking in the dark…) Anyhow, we were finally installed at the Naxi Family Guesthouse just before 9pm and just after sunset. Over supper we agreed our 3/4 complete trek had been fun, we also decided that now we were safely ON the gorge trail, we could set our own paces and wend our separate ways. I slept incredibly well here and before bedding down I saw more stars in the sky than I ever before have seen, it was breathtaking. Awaking to beautiful views, I settled my bill and noticed people had posted their business cards on the board all around the office in the Naxi courtyard. Could I also leave my calling card here? Yes, of course! Imagine my delight when, unprompted, the delightful Naxi girl decided to place me in such illustrious company. But enough ego. Let’s get up this gorge and see what all the fuss is about πŸ™‚ (Into Tiger Leaping Gorge 13 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 17 2009

Flexibility rules

Armed only with google maps (see A route with no map), we decided eventually to fold. Just like armies of other people we grudgingly found a bus. It was an awesome ride, but nothing compared to walking the route there. We had achieved most of the route, the altitude had affected Peter which was a shame for him. The grubby surroundings of the ‘restaurant’ fleapit had done nothing to help our morale that morning. The extortion of the gobbing man had added insult to injury. Let’s just get to our objective, let’s get to the gorge. (To Tiger Leaping Gorge 13 July)

Blue T shirt

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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”, Γ„WESOME water”and picturesque Shangri La. Take it easy. (Zhong Dian 16 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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