Jun 21 2010

Breakfast outside? Too big windy

The March trip to Yunnan province was a fantastic opportunity to see the province again and how glorious it was 🙂

Rough Edge took a group of five from the UK, travelling to Kunming for a couple of decompression days, followed by our arrival in Dali (after a hot bus ride of 4 hours). Once again the delightful Bird Bar was our home for a few nights and that was wonderful and chilled. We took in a day on the Cloud Pass to acclimatise ourselves at an altitude of 2400m.

In Dali we ate mostly outdoors, the temperatures were gentle and the air was sweet. The only times we didn’t eat al fresco were when our restaurant host was to tell us “no, too big windy!”

From Dali we headed once again to the oasis that is the Carnation Inn in Lijiang. Among the trinkets and tourist trash we planned our trek along Tiger Leaping Gorge.

And after a couple more hours in a bus, there we were heading into the gorge again and arriving at the extremely friendly Naxi Guest House at sunset – to some awe inspiring views across the back of the Jade Dragon Mountain range – truly wonderful 🙂

Our three days in the gorge also took in Halfway House, where the new accommodation is now complete – and very comfortable to boot.

On the final day, we took loads of video and pictures in the middle gorge and were driven out by micro-bus on a scary trip under roadworkers blasting a wider road through the rock. (Health & Safety regulations haven’t really reached Yunnan yet!)

Finally, refreshed by a night back at the Carnation Inn, we found ourselves back in Kunming and reconnected with Melodie (owner of the International Nail & Beauty Salon & a huge help in securing our accommodation on day one two weeks before).

Flying back everyone agreed it had been an action packed trip – lots of laughter, loads of welcoming and friendly people and a host of new and different experiences and sights 🙂

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Peter (one of our trip members) and his company Gripped Communications for making this short video of our Yunnan 2010 trip – take a look, it should give you a good feel for the place.

Be happy.

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics China 2010. DofE Gold Expedition. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.


Jul 19 2009

Going downtown

Trying not be too hasty I head away from the hostel advised that the best way back to town is to flag down a truck on the road – right next to the mountain lodge and under heavy, dusty, noisy construction (adding to the delight). I don’t much fancy a dusty truck ride and instead find tracks and trails that lead me across the hill finally back to the road and into town. Again the views are rewarding and in every direction the scenery is amazing. In downtown Deqin I find hotel – a clean one 🙂 It is time to pause and think about what to do next… (getting back to Deqin 19 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce

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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)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 6 2009

The cave, a fire and some old potatoes

So, here we are on the sacred moutain Mu Xiang Ping (or as the Master says, Chicken Foot Lotus Mountain). The good thing about all the effort to get to this place is there is no entrance charge and therefore no ‘tourist’ facilities (like chair lifts, or beautifully manicured paths with picnic areas). The challenging thing is that it is all a bit random. Unlike mountains in the UK, stripped long ago of their trees and vegetation, this mountain like many others in Yunnan is a living place. There are probably ten other cow boys – like the one helping us. Everyone offers us food or tea, or just a place to rest. If we wanted to, we would be welcome to stay. There are communities and they are welcoming of any visitor. As an outsider it feels strange, but it is just the way it is – and the welcome is one of genuine warmth. Anyway, back to our cow boy and the continuing journey. We walk for about an hour and here he points to a shack in the hillside. All around are stunning views, the shack has a homemade gate and a long-deserted vegetable patch. We go into this abandoned homestead, the farmer boy bids us goodbye and says he will bring us food tomorrow morning. Within no time, Xiao Bing has lit a fire in the small ‘fire room’ and found some seeded potatoes that he proceeds to cook and eat. (He also finds some of the monk’s abandoned rice store, but he fears there is too much mouse shit in it for it to be edible – hmmm, nice) (Mu Xiang Ping 4 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 6 2009

Easy but stunning

More about Cloud Pass. The path is beautifully kept, there are even picnic areas! The views and the air and the clouds above and around are simply stunning. Half way there is a small settlement – I finished my water and bought more, I was invited to sit down and rest, but I wanted to head on. At times there was the unmistakeable scent of ginger in the air, I saw a magnificent shining bird, like a kingfisher, but smaller and gold and red in colour – it was too fast to photograph. Great day. (Cloud Pass 3 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 2 2009

New nest

I moved to the Birds Nest yesterday evening and took a couple of snaps. It is extremely basic, but a couple of the people there speak English and it seems to attract interesting and relaxed people, maybe because the atmosphere is really laid back.

The place is also higher up the hill at the western end of the town, so there are good views to the mountains beyond. It was perfectly still last night and I slept brilliantly. At less than four pounds a night, this is great. (Dali 2 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce