Jul 12 2009

It’s better on the edge

P1030625Whilst the crowds and souvenirs of Lijiang may be suffocating, it isn’t hard to find a breath of fresh air and some great views on a walk out of town – through the public park and out of the back gate – onwards and upwards right away from town. Random areas of the hill are quarried and dogs bark when you pass houses. An old woman is tending her vegetables by a stream. Back down the track in the outskirts of the new town is a reservoir, people were swimming. It is the best view from a free public swimming pool I have ever seen. I eat fried potato on a stick and head back to the hordes past meticulously clean cafes in scruffy roadside buildings. Planning is underway to avoid the classic bus to Tiger Leaping Gorge and trek there instead; around the back of the awesome Jade Dragon Mountain (above)(5596m) The Chinese say it’s 13 peaks hold up the sky. This little trip needs preparation and – ideally – maps… hmmmm. Fear not, later I am to meet Lily, she knows the moutains, she runs an Eco tourist bureau and she will be able to help. (Lijiang 10 July)P1030628

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Jul 6 2009

Sacred mountain epic journey

Right, so I found a local guy – who is a martial arts instructor, but knows the mountains – he is called Xiao Bing. He and I set off for a sacred mountain on the opposite side of the Erhai Lake (40K long, north to south, with Dali on the western shore). We are heading for Mu Xiang Ping (otherwise known as Chicken Foot Lotus Mountain). At the start of the day he says he wants to save me money so we will take a bus, then find our transport into the mountain itself. All sounds fine so far, so we head off to the main road and find a public bus. It’s 8am and the bus is full of local people going to work. It is packed and there are lots of flies. It stops a lot, the road is a dirt track in many places. We are on the bus for an hour and fifteen minutes, all the way to a town at the other end of the western side of the lake. Here we stop and Xiao Bing negotiates a ride in a ‘tuctuc’ (you know, 3 wheeled motorbike with curtains and seats behind the driver). We pay 4 yuan (about 30p). The motorbike takes us along the north side of the lake along a busy road to the next town. We get out of the motorbike. Now it is ten o’clock, so we’ve been travelling for two hours. Xiao Bing recommends we buy food; I leave this to him and he gets two pots of extremely spicy noodles from a shop across the road. Now he negotiates with another driver who has a small four seater van (with very thin wheels and tinted windows). The price to take us to the village high in the mountain is 200 yuan, he says it will take two hours…
We set off and soon we are on a narrow muddy mountain road that snakes up and up into the hill. We pass local farmers tending their fruit crops, the driver stops to chat with them and they offer him a stop for tea… but we continue. We pass a small village, he asks directions, we continue. Three times we stop and there are debates between the driver and Xiao Bing – the driver fears he will not have enough fuel to get back to town. We continue. Finally, after the interference of an extremely loud-mouthed local farmer woman (who wants money to show us the way – we refuse), we reach our setting off point. My altimeter says 2750m, we are very high in the moutain. (Mu Xiang Ping aka Chicken Foot Lotus Mountain 4 July)

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