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

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 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)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jun 28 2009

When you wish you didn’t have a lighter

One hot traveller. One extremely full rucsac. One steel mesh security cover. One eagle eyed security guard. One lighter at the very bottom of the bag with the jetboil stove. Twenty stressful minutes. Top tip Don’t travel with a lighter through an airport in China. (Shanghai airport nearly missing Kunming flight 26 June)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce