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.


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.
However.
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 23 2009

Kunming kool

Kunming is a really chilled place, nobody seems to be in a hurry. There’s no traveling today, but tomorrow is when I leave Yunnan for the trip home, via Shanghai and ultimately HK again. Just everywhere there are great sights and sounds. Here are some pictures from the Green Lake area. This is a city to visit again and this is where I have received so much help from people, I am incredibly grateful. (Resting a day in Kunming 23 July)

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

China 2009


Jul 23 2009

This bit’s all buses

So, Lijiang is as I left it – packed with tourists. I find the Carnation Inn again and I’m met with smiles and a warm welcome from the family there. I repack my rucsac and I can'[t quite believe just how full it is again. Mr Carnation Inn organises me a ticket to get me to Kunming – I am to take a sleeper bus…
Finding my way to the bus station for a 7pm departure the sky clouds over and there is monumental thunder and lightning and it rains, like really rains! Once at the bus station however, confusion reigns as it turns out I have been taken to the wrong bus station. Great. But thanks in no small way to the incredibly efficient ticket office clerk, for somehow she manages to track down my bus, which by now (7.40) must have already left it’s departure point and she redirects it and it comes to pick me up – awesome. However, while I have been waiting I have been admiring the extremely smart Volvo and Daewoo buses at the bus station – feeling reassured by their gleaming paintwork and efficient looking drivers and staff. As my true bus pulls in two scruffy bus drivers approach and wave me towards a much less attractive looking bus and – alarmingly – thrust Y21 back at me saying I have overpaid. This is not the most reassuring start to an overnight journey in the rain back down through the mountains of Yunnan, but hey ho – let’s see.
There are no really good pictures of this bit, just some video I took in the dead of night to give an impression of what it is like crammed onto the top bunk of a sleeper bus on a “bed” that is about 8 inches wide and surrounded by 40 other people in similarly cramped bunks all of whom seem to be suffering from chest infections. This is one journey I don’t want to repeat. Here’s dawn over the lake in Kunming. I was extremely glad to arrive here and I really didn’t care how tired I was. (Lijiang to Kunming on a “sleeper” bus 21/22 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 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 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


Jul 1 2009

Helpful friends and a great cheap hotel

Tao in Kunming has been wonderful. Aside from running his yoga studio he found time to take me to meet Zhou Jun a climber with Red Point in Kunming. We broke through the communication barrier over half a dozen beers and some rock hard peanuts and his knowledge of the mountains of Yunnan is – and will be – extremely helpful. Thanks! The Spring Garden Star hotel in Kunming is peaceful, pleasant, clean and only ten quid a night – brilliant。(Dali China Youth Hostel free internet cafe 1 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 1 2009

Kunming pics

Just a few pics from Kunming – gateway to the Yunnan Province and a wonderful city. (Dali China Youth Hostel free internet cafe 1 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce