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 18 2009

A bus ride to the edge

P1040134Somehow bus stations do not inspire confidence in the trip ahead. The only way to make certain you are on the right bus, if you don’t speak Chinese, is repeatedly to show your ticket to the person who checks them, then make them point at the exact bus and get straight on it. I knew the trip to Deqin was going to be epic, not just because of the altitiude but also because this is the road where a few (buses) fall off each year during rainy season. It’s July 18 and it is rainy season. Luckily today is dry and the bus heads out of Xiange Lila (Zhong Dian) at the start of this six hour ride to the beginning of the Tibetan plain and the town of Deqin. (On the bus from Shangri La to Deqin 18 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.P1040100

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Jul 17 2009

Hang onto your seats – or to Shangri La in minibus

P1030967Once the middle rapid excursion is over it is time to head out of the gorge and make tracks towards Shangri La, the next destination on the road north through Yunnan. There is a wondeful Chinese woman and her french boyfriend, she has everyone organised to share a minibus, the idea is great, we all save a bit of money and we share. Then an Israeli guy gets involved and has ideas about how this plan could get better. You know the kind of thing, one person who previously had everything taped and another person comes along and just needs to fill the airwaves and create confusion because his/her idea simply must be better than the original (perfect) plan. Whatever – it means an extra hour of waiting around. Finally we’re off though – out of the gorge and soon on the road to Shangri La. An awesome trip for views. (On the road to Shangri La 15 July)

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Jul 17 2009

Some sunset

P1030894P1030904On the Insperation Terrace over dinner and a beer I meet Ben and Cara, they are on a massive four month trip and they are delightful. P1030893We talk and laugh and when we are not doing either of those the Jade Dragon Mountain teases us with rare glimpses of her peaks while the sun slowly sets. (Evening TLG 14 July)

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

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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)

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

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Jul 12 2009

Rain stops play

Blue T shirtSunday morning and it is raining. No it is pouring. (not sure about the old man). When (if) this stops we’ll start our trip. Hmmm. (Lijiang 12 July)

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

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Jul 12 2009

A route with no map

I have met Peter at breakfast in the Well Bistro. We bumped into each other first in Dali and here he is again. He is American and he’s been teaching English in Taipei. With three months off before a new post in Beijing he is travelling around. Peter is keen to avoid taking a bus with everyone else to Tiger Leaping Gorge too and we agree to do the trip together. He will come to my meeting with Lily.

Lily is very helpful indeed. She shows us a hand drawn map of the area around the Jade Dragon Mountain and points out a route from Baisha up to a lake called Wenhai (3100m) and then over a ridge (3800m) dropping down towards the road and ultimately the usual start point for the gorge. We discuss this trip and she assures us we need a guide. Maybe we can do it with the help of her map I ask? No she replies, these maps are just for the use of her guides. Oh. Anyway, I think, maybe going with a guide wouldn’t be so bad, so how much will this 3 day trip be? Her price is a little high for me I explain the following day, but she is welcome to come and explore the mountains in the UK anytime, borrow my maps and if she needs me to guide 🙂

With Lily’s route in mind (and now delayed by a further day) I put on my poshest English demeanour and head to the Grand Lijiang Hotel business centre in the hope I’ll be able to print google maps. It is time consuming and frustrating, but it gives me what I need. Peter meanwhile has visited Chang (Joachim’s helpful Chinese friend in Lijiang – but who speaks no English). Chang adds helpful advice to our route including that we will doubtless find a guide if we want one en route. It is Saturday and this has taken most of the day, but we will head off on Sunday – with bags of helpful advice, tips on where to stay, where to find guides and even maps of a scale where you can read the contours. Thanks Lily and thanks Chang. (Lijiang 11 July)

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

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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

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

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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.
Great.
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)

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

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Jul 6 2009

High in the sacred mountain

As we hear the van driver disappear back down the mud road for his two hour trip to town a small man with a camouflage jacket appears with a small boy in tow. This, Xiao Bing tells me, is the mountain warden. We are to go with him to his house and have tea. We haven’t walked anywhere yet, it is now one o’clock so we have been travelling for 5 hours, but hey, everything is an experience, so we follow the man and his boy through the undergrowth, past his snarling dogs which he despatches with a loud grunt, to his homestead in the sky. He invites me in, we sit, he makes strong tea and offers me food – I say I have eaten. There are chickens, dogs and mushrooms drying on large trays in the sun. This is mushroom season and the Bai people and this region are famous for these mushrooms at this time of year. Xiao Bing tells me it is a good way for the farmers to make money while they are in season. A group of 8 locals arrives soon after, they bring food – fishes, vegetables, a crate of soft drinks and some see-through eels the size of whitebait. The mountain warden’s wife busies herself washing the food and putting it in bowls. Xiao Bing and I set off up the trail next to the warden’s house and up onto the mountain. There are stunning views this way and that through the thick vegetation. After one and a half hours we reach a wide open plateau and there is a house, some cow boys herding cows (odd that). In the house, Xiao Bing tells me, lives the Master; a monk who looks after the sacred mountain. He greets us and tells us to camp away from the cows somewhere they won’t bother us. After a time, one of the cow boys and Xiao Bing strike up conversation; the boy tells us of a cave, deserted for over a year by another monk who used to live there. There he says, we will be safe from the cows. He says he will take us there. (Mu Xiang Ping 4 July)

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