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 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 18 2009

Up and up and up

AltimeterRoadworks at 4000mP1040107And so it goes on, the road snakes further and further through the most awesome mountain ranges. At certain corners there are small concrete bollards to prevent the unwitting driver from tumbling into the abyss. After a while though these seem to peter out and the metalled road is still under construction. From a small town at 2050m the road climbs for an amazing 67Km (that’s over 40 miles) to reach a dizzy height at the top of the pass of 4160m (that’s over 12,000ft). The reward is in the view as you are treated to the first glimpses of snow capped mountains that soar and stretch way to the beyond. The road workers are working mainly by hand – it must be extremely tough living and working at this altitude in these conditions (not many jobs command such a world beating view though 🙂 (4160m in the sky, on the bus to Deqin 18 July)




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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce

Jul 18 2009

A bus ride to the edge

P1040134Somehow bus stations do not inspire confidence in the trip ahead. The only way to make certain you are on the right bus, if you don’t speak Chinese, is repeatedly to show your ticket to the person who checks them, then make them point at the exact bus and get straight on it. I knew the trip to Deqin was going to be epic, not just because of the altitiude but also because this is the road where a few (buses) fall off each year during rainy season. It’s July 18 and it is rainy season. Luckily today is dry and the bus heads out of Xiange Lila (Zhong Dian) at the start of this six hour ride to the beginning of the Tibetan plain and the town of Deqin. (On the bus from Shangri La to Deqin 18 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.P1040100

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce