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 28 2009

And once more back again

Isn’t it always brilliant to arrive back home? Such a warm feeling.

So, Yunnan is incredible, but now the real work starts (not just the washing), we have to put together the right programme, with the right people, in the right places ready for 2010.

If you are interested, the blog will continue as plans become realities. Meantime thanks for reading. There’s loads more I could say, but it’s best saved for another time after some reflection – it’s a bit soon for a summary today. (on arriving back in the UK 28 July)And once more back again

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

Jul 23 2009

Kunming kool

Kunming is a really chilled place, nobody seems to be in a hurry. There’s no traveling today, but tomorrow is when I leave Yunnan for the trip home, via Shanghai and ultimately HK again. Just everywhere there are great sights and sounds. Here are some pictures from the Green Lake area. This is a city to visit again and this is where I have received so much help from people, I am incredibly grateful. (Resting a day in Kunming 23 July)

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

China 2009

Jul 23 2009

This bit’s all buses

So, Lijiang is as I left it – packed with tourists. I find the Carnation Inn again and I’m met with smiles and a warm welcome from the family there. I repack my rucsac and I can'[t quite believe just how full it is again. Mr Carnation Inn organises me a ticket to get me to Kunming – I am to take a sleeper bus…
Finding my way to the bus station for a 7pm departure the sky clouds over and there is monumental thunder and lightning and it rains, like really rains! Once at the bus station however, confusion reigns as it turns out I have been taken to the wrong bus station. Great. But thanks in no small way to the incredibly efficient ticket office clerk, for somehow she manages to track down my bus, which by now (7.40) must have already left it’s departure point and she redirects it and it comes to pick me up – awesome. However, while I have been waiting I have been admiring the extremely smart Volvo and Daewoo buses at the bus station – feeling reassured by their gleaming paintwork and efficient looking drivers and staff. As my true bus pulls in two scruffy bus drivers approach and wave me towards a much less attractive looking bus and – alarmingly – thrust Y21 back at me saying I have overpaid. This is not the most reassuring start to an overnight journey in the rain back down through the mountains of Yunnan, but hey ho – let’s see.
There are no really good pictures of this bit, just some video I took in the dead of night to give an impression of what it is like crammed onto the top bunk of a sleeper bus on a “bed” that is about 8 inches wide and surrounded by 40 other people in similarly cramped bunks all of whom seem to be suffering from chest infections. This is one journey I don’t want to repeat. Here’s dawn over the lake in Kunming. I was extremely glad to arrive here and I really didn’t care how tired I was. (Lijiang to Kunming on a “sleeper” bus 21/22 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce

Jul 19 2009

Dirty in Deqin

And so to the second Deqin Don’t. Don’t stay where I did. It was grubby, no dirty, really dirty. I have been staying all over Yunnan now for over a month and paying similar amounts to the rate at this mountain lodge. So far even if most places have been very basic, everywhere has been clean and tidy. This place seems to be stuck in the old school where the belief was that trekkers like to rough it come what may… The world has moved on and anyone will tell you, when it comes to your shower, food and bed for the night you’d prefer them all to be clean. Yuk. (A hostel I couldn’t wait to leave, Deqin 19 July)

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

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce

Jul 17 2009

Build it and they will come

Zhong Dian until 2003, now Shangri La. If you had visited here in 1997 you would have missed the Old City. Because it wasn’t there. This town at 3200m is the result of massive investment to attract tourists to the area and it works. There is traditional dancing in the square every evening from 7pm – you can join in if you like, it goes on for two hours or more. P1040095To be fair the Old Town has been lovingly (re)created and it is extremely picturesque. There’s a great Yak Cheese shop, the young yak cheese is rubbish but the old yak cheese is great. And there is an interesting take on the Long March in one of the museums at the foot of town. It’ll also come as no surprise by now that you can head up the nearby snow mountain on – yes – a cable car. Among other things I was also advised to see the monastery at dusk, but unfortunately today it was raining so that will have to wait for next time. It would be very easy here to get sucked into the backpacker (lonely planet) trail and again meet everyone you just met at TLG, so best advice is find something obscure or ask people who have already been, before you come yourself. But after five days trekking around and generally doing fit stuff, this will be a good halfway house before heading onwards and upwards to the final Chinese frontier with Tibet; Deqin the most N Westerly town in Yunnan and my final destination on this trip. Right now – I think I’ll just be a tourist for a day or two – now where’s that reproduction yak’s head keyring shop again? (Zhong Dian 17 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.P1040054

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



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.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce

Jul 7 2009

A big step forward

OK, so after all the hurly burly of the last few days it was time to get serious and sort out some of the why, when and how… It’s brilliant now because after a long 3 way telephone call involving me, Tao in Kunming and “mountain man” Peng here in Dali we have cracked it. Peng is going to be the advisor and partner here in Yunnan, suggesting routes, working out logistics and being on call to bring everything together in a professional way. This is great because you couldn’t find anyone more knowledgable about the mountains of Yunnan than Peng. I am delighted he will be working with us. We both understand the need for a third person in between us to make sure we can all understand each other, Tao is keen, but may not have time, we’ll see. A great day, a great result, our true mountain partner in Yunnan. Thanks Tao, thanks Peng! (Dali 7 July)

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