Jul 17 2009

Getting high to Wenhai

Blue T shirtSo after the rain stopped, I set out from Lijiang with Peter. We were heading for Baisha and thereafter upwards onto the mountain range to the west. With the awesome Jade Dragon Mountain range to our north east. Our intended stopover was a village by a lake called Wenhai. The weather again threatened but for the most part held off as we made our way through dense forest above a monastery/tea house/farm at 2600m. In time we emerged onto a dirt road, a very, very long and winding dirt road. It meandered some 12k up the side of the mountain topping out at 3150m with a view down to the lake and eventually the village of Wenhai. Here we were bound to find a warm welcome, some food and a bed for the night… As we made our way into the village there seemed no sign of guest houses or inns, but after asking a group of farmers – chatting together at the end of the day – we were directed to a restaurant – wow, what luck!

Before committing however, I took a look around the village – and stopped at the local shop – think Londis at 3100m in the sky. So then on to our rural welcome, this was great… a restaurant, how lucky 🙂 (Wenhai Village 3050m 12 July)

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Jul 6 2009

A truck, some mud, Little Dog and me

It takes nearly two hours and seemingly endless telephone negotiation (mostly by Xiao Bing with interceptions from the very loud and forceful mountain warden’s wife, the most notable of which, “no not you, you fool, your father!” when demanding someone sends a vehicle to take us all down the 2 hour mud road). Eventually we hear the reassuring sound of a horn and we head back up to the road.
They’ve only gone and got the truck stuck in the mud. Bloody marvellous. It’s raining again.
There is much heaving, huffing, puffing and general to do.
Just to recap, now the party going down the mountain has grown still further: Here’s the cast:
Xiao Bing, the Master, DanDan, ShweShwe, the mountain warden’s wife, the mountain warden’s son (in a basket), Little Dog and me. Oh and the three guys who have arrived and got the truck stuck.
We get the truck free, we all board. Strangely although DanDan and I are paying for this ride, it is he and I along with Xiao Bing, the Master and Little Dog who have to travel in the back of the truck. Anyhow off we set. Bouncing (a lot) through the rain and mist, heading for the foot of the mountain. Along the way Little Dog finds a safe haven and rests on my boot. At the small village half way down we are given sweets to keep us going – the Master takes charge of doling these out. It is a strange journey and it takes ages. Little Dog cradled at my feet and the Master standing with his brass staff at the front of the back of the truck (if you know what I mean) looking through the gap above the truck’s cab. It seems endless, but finally we are down and on the level road alongside the lake. Here we are going to find the boat to take us all to Dali – hurrah!
PS – there was no boat. We waited another hour in a village and ended up back on a public bus – having said goodbye to the mountain warden’s wife and the mountain warden’s son (in a basket). The bus took us back to Dali – and we all said our goodbyes, me, Xiao Bing, DanDan, ShweShwe, the Master and Little Dog (in a bag). The end of an extraordinary little trip. God I’m tired. (Dali 5 July)

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Jul 6 2009

A change of plan

It is night and it starts to rain. Then it gets heavier until I think even my awesome little tent will give way. The rain doesn’t stop and the wind becomes stronger. In deep slumber about 8am and still very tired, I hear ‘Hallo‘. It is the Master and DanDan (who is staying with his girlfriend at the Master’s place). They have come to check we are OK. Put off by the incessant pounding rain I stay in my tent, until after half an hour I know I will have to get up. They have been chatting with Xiao Bing and as I appear they are just about ready to leave. I could have done with some more sleep – maybe the rain would have stopped before I had to come out and face it. Xiao Bing later agrees, he wasn’t ready for earloy morning visitors either – but their concern was well meant. We busy ourselves with food – more boil in the bag and some tea (PG tips from home, in the province famous for it’s black tea – hahaha). The rain calms down and we pack everything away and soon the Master reappears. I have taken a look over the ridge nearby on my walk yesterday evening and I can see that if we head in a S. Westerly direction over the hill we will hit the lake. Originally our plan was to walk from here onto the neighbouring Chicken Foot Mountain itself, but it is clear (or rather not) that the rain is here to stay, so there will be nothing to see. The Master says he and the two staying with him also want to head down the mountain, but he advises against my chosen route, saying it is very likely we will lose our way. He is insistent we come down with him. The two staying with him DanDan and his girlfriend ShweShwe are keen to reach Dali during the day. So we agree to all go together off the mountain. Soon, we are back at the Master’s house, he has a small dog that he calls Little Dog. He gets all his monk stuff together in a rucsac and brings a brass staff with him. The dog is coming with us too, in a bag, with a small sachet of milk powder in the bottom to keep him happy. So we start to trek down the mountain and after about an hour and a half we raech the mountain warden’s house again… Here we are going to call for transport. I have a feeling this will be another epic. (Mu Xiang Ping 5 July)

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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)

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