Jul 21 2009

On and off the bus

Heading south from Shangri La about an hour into the journey there is a loud bang. The driver slows to a halt and his sidekick steps down from the bus to see what has happened. The bus has had a blowout on one of the rear wheels. Thinking about it now, I am quite glad it happened on the long straight flat road across the plain from Zhong Dian and not in the mountains through the pass down to the Haba range. Anyhow, there is much discussion, one incredibly small looking jack to hold the wheel aloft (people still in the bus and free to come and go both in and out of the bus throughout)… It takes about 20 minutes to fix and we are on the way again – heading south towards Lijiang and for me the place I am to be reunited with some of my travel baggage – left behind before Wenhai and the trek to Tiger Leaping Gorge… Onwards. (On the bus from Zhong Dian to Lijiang 21 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 17 2009

Down and out

Peter found the early part of the walk tough, because we had to climb 160m or so to reach the coll and get out of the Wenhai valley to the other side where we could start to lose height. Farm animals were free to roam, unconstrained by field boundaries. I wanted to advise all three pigs NOT to choose straw, but held myself back.Very slowly,we started to descend into the wide open valley below and ultimately hitched a ride on the tiniest of trucks, so small the driver chose a footpath as a shortcut down to the village below! Here we would re-plan and rest a while. (Down from Wenhai 13 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 17 2009

Let’s get out of here

Breakfast was shouted at eight o’clock. Peter had become dizzy and ill during the night, I knew it was the altitude that was affecting him and I decided we would lose some height and find an alternative route to Tiger Leaping Gorge. Measly Mr Gobby brought me an egg fritter, it was OK. Peter was sleeping, feeling very tired indeed. There was no sign of anything else edible or drinkable, so I got out the jetboil and made coffee which I drank with ‘France Bread’ – kind of weightless pre-packed sweet rolls I had picked up in the supermarket in Lijiang for this very occasion. Byebye Mr Gobby, bye bye barking dogs, bye bye fleapit ‘restaurant’ Ni Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaau! (still just as funny) (Escape from Wenhai’s worst host 13 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 17 2009

Getting high to Wenhai

Blue T shirtSo after the rain stopped, I set out from Lijiang with Peter. We were heading for Baisha and thereafter upwards onto the mountain range to the west. With the awesome Jade Dragon Mountain range to our north east. Our intended stopover was a village by a lake called Wenhai. The weather again threatened but for the most part held off as we made our way through dense forest above a monastery/tea house/farm at 2600m. In time we emerged onto a dirt road, a very, very long and winding dirt road. It meandered some 12k up the side of the mountain topping out at 3150m with a view down to the lake and eventually the village of Wenhai. Here we were bound to find a warm welcome, some food and a bed for the night… As we made our way into the village there seemed no sign of guest houses or inns, but after asking a group of farmers – chatting together at the end of the day – we were directed to a restaurant – wow, what luck!

Before committing however, I took a look around the village – and stopped at the local shop – think Londis at 3100m in the sky. So then on to our rural welcome, this was great… a restaurant, how lucky 🙂 (Wenhai Village 3050m 12 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


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.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce