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)

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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)

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

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Jul 6 2009

An awesome place to spend the night

With the well-over-the-hill potatoes cooked and finished I cook us some boil in the bag food. Xiao Bing is impressed with the Jetboil and how fast we can enjoy something tasty (I am certain his potatoes were not the best meal he’d ever eaten, although I didn’t accept his offer to try some). I find the flattest place to pitch my tent, Xiao Bing elects to sleep on the Monk’s old homemade bed in the cave itself. Soon it is nearly sunset and after a short walk, taking loads of pictures of amazing plants, I sit outside the shack as the birds sing a loud chorus. A tiny bright red bird comes to feed on the foliage around the shack. Damn, this one too is too fast to photograph. My altimeter says 3200m. This is an awesome place. It is only 8.45pm, but it has been an epic day and it is time for bed. (Mu Xiang Ping 4 July)

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