Jul 17 2009

Into the gorge as darkness falls

So we folded, but there was still a tiring end of day climb, from Qitao first onto the start of the gorge trail, then a solid 9k to reach the Naxi Family Guesthouse, a perfect point to set off from on the gorge trail proper in the morning. Peter strode ahead up this early section of Tiger Leaping Gorge – keen, as he said, not to be walking in the dark (there were moments when I wondered if he meant US walking in the dark or just HIM walking in the dark…) Anyhow, we were finally installed at the Naxi Family Guesthouse just before 9pm and just after sunset. Over supper we agreed our 3/4 complete trek had been fun, we also decided that now we were safely ON the gorge trail, we could set our own paces and wend our separate ways. I slept incredibly well here and before bedding down I saw more stars in the sky than I ever before have seen, it was breathtaking. Awaking to beautiful views, I settled my bill and noticed people had posted their business cards on the board all around the office in the Naxi courtyard. Could I also leave my calling card here? Yes, of course! Imagine my delight when, unprompted, the delightful Naxi girl decided to place me in such illustrious company. But enough ego. Let’s get up this gorge and see what all the fuss is about 🙂 (Into Tiger Leaping Gorge 13 July)

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Jul 17 2009

Most measly man, meagre meal, much money

P1030672In this most spectacular setting my heart was heavy when I took my first glimpse inside the courtyard of the ‘restaurant’. There were two fierce barking dogs and a man with a mean face and no volume control. His dialect was unintelligible even to Peter, who hitherto had prided himself (not wrongly) for guiding us through some of the more complicated transactions to get this far. Once inside the fleapit room that was the ‘restaurant’ itself we were reassured by the emergence of a menu. Ah! we thought, there must be a comely cook who arrives to transform the place into a warm and welcoming evening retreat come sunset.

How very very wrong we were. The menu was entirely redundant. The gobbing man (for he did this with alarming frequency) was pointing to the fresh veg in his garden – and shouting, better that we might understand him. My recce of the village had revealed nowhere else to stay, we were imprisoned with this moron and his exceptional sense of humour. (maybe he didn’t understand, but I knew he was taking the piss when everytime he looked at me he shouted Ni Hau and laughed – like it was the only word I knew – ha ha – bloody hilarious).

The meal was eventually served, it was getting dark. It consisted of veg he cut from the patch next to the ‘restaurant’ and fried egg. Nice. (actually it was reasonably tasty, but his price of Y30 each, on top of his room price of Y180 was just ridiculous). While we ate he served himself his own dinner too. I have seen lots people eat, different styles of food in many different countries – his particular style, I can report, was unique. Every mouthful was greeted with a painful groan, each involved extremely loud slurping and there was continued phlegming and gobbing throughout. The only escape was to laugh, which we did. Then half way through this grotesque interlude my friend Peter rang me and it was a blessed relief to be able to share the experience with someone else. Mr Gobby made us pay then (although quite how he thought we would escape past the dogs (tunnel? I did think about it, but there was no exercise horse in the courtyard) and out into the night I don’t know). In all a desultory ‘restaurant’ a mean man and an all round piss take of our foreigner dollar. We saved the day by laughing – a lot and thankfully, although a ridiculous price, the room was plenty comfortable enough. (Mr Gobby’s ‘restaurant”guesthouse’ Wenhai Village 12/13 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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