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 21 2009

The bus off and on

Image Thumbnail Image Thumbnail
Image ThumbnailImage Thumbnail It is an awesome bus, very smooth and excellently driven. So once the tyre is fixed we make good speed and head high into the mountains – passing slower traffic easily and quickly. All of a sudden though we come to a roadblock and the bus slows to a stop again. There has been a landslide and workers are suspended in harnesses high above the road to hack away at the loose earth letting it crash to the road to be cleared away. Traffic is stopped in both directions while this operation unfolds. We all head up onto the grassy hill by the road and wait in the sun, we are there for about an hour until a siren sounds, the men haul their way back up their ropes to a makeshift platform they’ve carved out of the muddy hill and traffic is allowed slowly past this obstruction – we’re off again, Lijiang is only hours away. (On and off the bus again from Zhong Dian to Lijiang 21 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 safe

It takes about an hour for me to relax in the realisation that Dave is an awesomely good driver and knows the road extremely well. Indeed he doesn’t just know the road, he seems to know everyone on it too. His skill is appreciated as I take millions of pics and much video (to be edited & uploaded once home). The moving pictures, I am sure, will capture the drama of this magnificent journey best, but here is what a driver on this mountain road faces as he hurtles through settlements, villages, roadworks and farms:

Children, handcarts, grandmas, yaks, monks, donkeys, bikes, pigs, tractors, goats and laundry – all these can be on the road at any time. Hence Dave adopts the ‘hoot & go’ approach. You hoot and go. Simple. And it is hoot & go for overtaking too – although this takes a little longer as a passenger to feel comfortable about. In all we are in each other’s company for close on 5 hours and he is one of the most skilful drivers I have been driven by. He gets me back down to Shangri La safely, but fast, skilfully, but cautiously and I thank Dave for that.

This is one of those epic journeys that is impossible to bring to life here, but I have picked out some random best bits for now – there will be loads more to come, given bit of time. One breathtaking ride. (On the road from Deqin 20 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


Jul 19 2009

Dirty in Deqin

And so to the second Deqin Don’t. Don’t stay where I did. It was grubby, no dirty, really dirty. I have been staying all over Yunnan now for over a month and paying similar amounts to the rate at this mountain lodge. So far even if most places have been very basic, everywhere has been clean and tidy. This place seems to be stuck in the old school where the belief was that trekkers like to rough it come what may… The world has moved on and anyone will tell you, when it comes to your shower, food and bed for the night you’d prefer them all to be clean. Yuk. (A hostel I couldn’t wait to leave, Deqin 19 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 19 2009

Dizzy in Deqin

Deqin (pron Durr Chin) is already at an altitude of 3350m I was staying in a mountain lodge higher up the road towards the Tibetan border (see next post). And so to the first Deqin Don’t. Don’t rush in. With the idea I would climb above the hostel to take in even more breathtaking views, the views took my breath and I had to take myself down again. With the little time available to me as this trip nears its end, I believed I could do more than I could and ended up feeling decidely dodgy. My best advice for this most awe inspiring of places is to plan a few days of nothing when you first get here, then once acclimatised the terrain is yours to discover. Nonetheless, despite my haste and paying the price, I was treated to some amazing sights in the hills above Deqin, the best of which was when the mighty Mei Li Xue Shan (6740m) revealed her sacred peak through the cloud. This mountain has never been climbed (in the last attempt in 1991, 17 Japanese mountaineers lost their lives). But enough, here are the pictures and there will be more because this place has to be visited again, it is awesome. (Dizzy above Deqin 18/19 July)

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