A Travellerspoint blog

Dali

(back in realtime)

overcast 19 °C
View SE Asia Summer 2009 on Yeebles's travel map.

Yesterday we set of for Dali. The bus journey was long and bumpy as the main road was closed for repair. We stopped a few times on the way and for lunch we had pot noodles.

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Dali like everywhere else we visited had a touristy old town. The hotel we were staying at was the most luxurious of them all with clean large rooms and proper toilets. They even had free laundry whic I took advantage off by giving them all my clothes.

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For Dinner we had a Bai banquet with many interesting dishes. Minced Donkey was very good. Silkworms on the other hand were disgusting. The food was very good overall and nice and spicy. By nthe end everyone was very full.

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After dinner, we went Bamboo Cafe a bar owned by George, who is a good friend of Linda and Charlie's guide from their last intrepid trip. He was expecting us and he served us some really strong plum wine and Dali Happy Hours Beer. George enjoyed our presence and Danced with Charlie and let him DJ. A lot of alcohol was consumed. Rob soon found out that large ammounts of beer and high altitude do not mix and we took him back to the hotel. Charlie also eventually left leaving me to pick the songs. In the end Candy requested Led Zepplin and The beatles which we listened to through out the rest of the night.

When George left some locals joined us and we had a laugh with them. Jim a Tibetan was very cool. He could read peoples bodies by holding there hand. Also he bought us Pizza and nuts. Linda, Candy Natalie and I stayed until 3:30. It was a great night. Jim wanted us to go with him to have some hot pot but we decided it was best to go back as we had plans in the morning.

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Today, most of the group went to catch a cable car and get some views whilst treking the nearby mountains. Lyn, Linda and I decided we wanted more culture rather than going on a mountain whilst it was raining and overcast. We decided to head 27km north of Dali to the local Shapping Monday market. We took a bumpy bus to Shapping. When we got there were we in for a treat. It wasn't touristy at all and the atmosphere was great. All sorts were on sale from massive vegetables, shoes, embroiderry, meat, fish (kept alive in bowls of water) and even farming tools. We wondered around for ages taking in the sights. It was brilliant! After a couple of hours we went a got a bus back in (tuk tuks were to expensive). This bus ride was even bumpier and for some of it we were airbourne.

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We then went to have a look at the statue of Confusus near our hotel.

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Tonight it is back to George's

Tomorrow it is back to Kunming

Posted by Yeebles 16:47 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Shangri-la

overcast 17 °C
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In Shangri-la it was up to us to plan our day. Rob and I woke up and had some breakfastof eggs and toast (yum) at the guesthouse. Then a group of us had decided to to the Tibetan Monastry by bus. We tried to devise a plan to getinto the monsatry without paying the ridiculous 85yuan entrance fee impossed by the Chinese govt. on tourists. Howeverm when we got to the bus terminal where you buy the tickets and get the shuttle we were told to get off the bus regardless of whether we were going to the monastry or not. We ended up paying the fee.

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The walk up the steps to the monastry was a struggle, not because it was particullarly, but because of the altitude Shangri-la is at. The monastry was not that amazing. There were two main buildings each with a large statue of Buddah in it. In one of the buildings we watched some monks do some chanting. Although the monastry looked nice the construction surrounding the complex dampened the effect.

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After only a couple of hours we headed back into town, minus a couple of people. In the town we were on the search for some basic non greasy food aspeople weren't feeling very well. We ended going to a local dumpling place. I had a plate of pork dumplings which cost me the low price of 6 yuan (60p).

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Rob and I then went back to the hostel as Rob needed a nap. After his nap we decided to wonder around the old town. We sampledsome of the local BBQ producs sold by vendors on the town square. BBQ Yak, Mushrooms and aubergine were particullary good and only cost about 5 yuan in total. We then went to Turtle Hill where we got some great views and got to spin supposedly the largest prayer wheel in China.

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We then went to a Local Fairtrade craft shop which was nearby suggested by Linda. It seemed to be a better deal than the tourist shops in the old town centre. I bought a Yak bell for 15 yuan (1.50). After leaving the craft shop I heard drums and music. So Rob and I followed the noise. We found all these children in traditional Tibetan dress drumming. What a random find!

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We met with some of the group at the guest house to go out for Dinner. We decided to try a Tibetan Hot Pot: a pot put in the middle of the table heated by charcoal with a broth and meat inside it which you could put raw veggies into it to cook.

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To our disappointment the meat was very boney (as they were mainly used for flavour). As a result there was a contest (mostly among the men) to find meaty bits in the pot.

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Regardless the veg was good and the broth filed me up. We then went to the square where we took part in the local daily dance routine. Afterthat we had some cold beers and went to bed.

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Posted by Yeebles 15:50 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The Stormy Escape

TLG5

storm 19 °C
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It all started at 2:00 when we were fast asleep in our beds. In the mountains Dry Streams were becoming wet and wet streams becoming wetter, and more powerful. The rain which had beeen absent during our trek had come. It did stop after a bit, but returned in full force at 6:00. Giving us a glijmpse of the Tiger Leaping Gorge in wet weather. The river below was swelling, clouds covered the mountains and streams were more visible.

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At breakfast we were told that or minibuses would be a little late due to the rain. When they arrived, we were seperated into 2 busses. A more modern one which took half the group and the bags. And a small ageing red minibus, which Rob, Natalie, Linda, Little Rice and I went into. The bus didn't feel worthy when we got into it with exhaust fumes filling the backseats. As we set off we had no idea of the perils of the road ahead.

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The ride at first was heart stopping. With the driver going fairly quickly around the slippery roads with a sheer drop on one side down into the Yangtze. When we cam across waterfalls for some reason it was best to avoid the water and go as close to the edge as possible. However the worst was still to come as we entered the dirt track section of this mountainous road.

Ahead of us the visibility wasn't very good. But what we saw was everyone in the other van jump out. Rock falls and landslides were begining to occur and a rock had hit the back of the van shattering the rear window. We had to turn around. The van in front reversed into the wall and hit it breaking the glass at the back even more. When we were doing our 3 point turn, the driver reversed towards the edge. We were no more than a foot away from the edge. Stop we had to shout to prevent the driver from reversing down the gorge. Needless to say as soon as we stopped we jumped out the van and let the driver reverse by himself.

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As we began to head the other direction. More people wanted to go in the newer van. Rob, David, Little Rice and I were in the red van of doom. As we drove we came to a waterfall in the road. The first van crossed it and we began to follow. Seconds after the 1st van crossed, the waterfall becam e a powerful mass of water throwing logs and large pieces of rock. We were trapped on that side of the waterfall, and could not go back due to rock falls. We had to wait.

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Eventually the water did begin to get less strong but it was still very fast and we did not feel that the van could do it. We contemplated running or leaping across but one wrong move could lead to instant death. We did see a 4x4 cross the water. Eventually one of them came back and we pleaded for the driver to ferry us across. It was still risky with the safest route being right next to the edge. We made it across and the other van was waiting on the otherside and took us to a guesthouse to calm down and have some tea.

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Half an hour later the red bus had a replacement and we were off the long wayround the mountains to Shangri-la. The journey was long and there was a partial landslide which we had todrive over but we were happy to not have sheer drops on the side of the road. I took us 6 hours as opposed to the 2.5 hour journey we were meant to have. Kevin's Backpacker inn was fairly decent and had Skype.

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Having not had lunch we were very hungry. We went to a Tibetan/Nepalese/Indian resturaunt. Where everyone was keen to have some Yak. Rob had a Yak Steak. I had Yak Curry. It was delicious

Posted by Yeebles 14:52 Archived in China Tagged automotive Comments (2)

Tiger Leaping Gorge: The Descent

TLG 4

semi-overcast 24 °C
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So after a good sleep and recovery, we got up for a fairly late departure of 10:30. For breakfast the group had pancakes. Today was supposed to be a much easier day with mostly downhill and flat. Also the weather was more favourable as there was to be less direct sunlight.

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As I felt much better, I was able to keep up with the fast people (Rob and Charlie). There were some fantastic views to be had of the Yangtze river and the surrounding mountains. The path had some interesting obstacles too from goats and horses, burst watermains and waterfalls.

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Once we reached the bottom we had lunch, which is now renouned as the worst lunch everyone has had in their travels (One member, Candy, said that chewy Snake and Snakes Blood was better). Essentially it was a dissapointment that they could screw up something as simple as noodles.

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After lunch there was discussion of an optional trek to the skyladder which is a 3 hour walk to the river. However, Merrick, our guide, said that due to recent heavy rains the river was too high and fast so it was unsafe and no one has been there in days. However we were told that we could go to a similar bit futher upstream tomorrow.

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We then got to the Tibetan Guest House where we were reunited with the sick member of our group, Linda and Got to meet the Demon Dog. We then just chilled for a bit. Rob and I had a shared Dinner with Gordon. We then had a laugh telling anecdotes for the night. We all went to bed happy and relaxed....

Little did we know a storm was brewing.....

Posted by Yeebles 13:45 Archived in China Tagged foot Comments (0)

Tiger Leaping Gorge

all seasons in one day 28 °C
View Alex and Rob's South East Asia trip 2009 on robbiet239's travel map.

After leaving our big rucksacks in storage in Qiaotou we then set off on our trek up into the spectacular scenery of Tiger Leaping Gorge in the early afternoon heat. Two hours in we stopped for a late lunch at a guesthouse with everyone already fairly tired out from the first climb. However, the worst was still to come with the infamous 28 bends which took us up to more than 2600m above sea level. After that it was just a short decent to our guesthouse for the night.

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The weather still remained fine for the second day of the trek and after a fairly leisurely start we just had a four hour trek down from the gorge. However, due to rain in previous few days it was unsafe for us to take the path down all the way to the river. We spent the rest of the afternoon at our guesthouse still with fine views down the gorge.

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However, when we woke up on Friday the weather had complete changed with low cloud and heavy rain. At nine that morning we set of in two rather old and beaten up minibuses to drive back through the gorge to Qiaotou to collect our bags. However, right from the start it didn't look good with us driving through a couple of minor landslides where our driver insisted on driving as close to the cliff as possible. After a few kilometres our route was completely blocked and one of the buses managed to shatter its back windscreen turning around.

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As we then tried to make our way back to our guesthouse one of the previously small landslides started raining down vast quantities of water and boulders onto the road narrowly missing the first bus and trapping us on the second bus in between the two landslides. After around half an hour of waiting the flow had slackened a little and a jeep had turned up ferrying people across. Having made it across we then took a bus to Shangri La via the scenic route due to the landslides.

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Posted by robbiet239 02:58 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Lijiang

overcast 23 °C
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On Monday after meeting up with our Intrepid group we left for an 9 hour bus ride to the town of Lijiang. Straight away we learnt that the quality of Chinese driving left much to be desired, when on exiting Kunming another coach from the same company went too fast round a corner and crashed into a barrier going up on two wheels before only missing us by virtue of the central crash barrier. However, after a long 9 hour bus trip we made it to our guesthouse in the old town of Lijaing.

When we went down into the old town that evening we saw a maze of cobbled streets filled with people colour and noise. Although most of the shops were clearly very much set up for tourists it was still an interesting place to walk around in.

The next day we decided to hire some bikes and head out to some nearby villages and luckily despite the overcast conditions it stayed dry. In the first village we met the famous Doctor Hu, a Chinese medicine doctor who Michael Palin went to see when he went through the Himalayas.

On Wednesday morning there was due to be a solar eclipse but when we got up we saw that the weather was overcast and drizzling which didn't leave us much hop[e of seeing anything. However, we did get to see some of the eclipse through occasional gaps in the cloud and in fact the cloud was quite useful as a filter for those of us without special glasses to see the eclipse. After that we left Lijiang on a bus to Quitao to start our Tiger Leaping Gorge trek.

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The eclipse

Posted by robbiet239 02:41 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The tiger leaping gorge

Part 3 of tlg

sunny 28 °C
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We set off from lijiang nice and early. It was cloudy so it seemed unlikely we were going to see the longest eclipse in a millenium. However, when we got to the bus station the eclipse right in front of our (blacked out glasses covered) eyes. Many videos and photos were taken of the eclipse which appeared to be 97% in lijiang. As it went dark we set off on our 3 hour bus journey to Qiautou where we would start our trek and leave our rucksacks.

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The journey took a bit longer as a member of our party had developed a bad case of poisoning supposedly from pear juicediluted with local water.

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We set off from qiatou later than planned in the sweltering head and direct sunlight which made normal uphills seem a strugle. When we got to the Naxi guest house for lunch after 2-3 hours of trekking we were knackered and gobbled down our lunch.

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We then set off onto the hardest part of the trek which did give us some amazing views but contained the notoriously hard 28 bends. By time I got to the 2nd bend (which took 2 hours to get to from the guest house) my legs lost all strength and felt dizzy. So me and another member decided we would try out the
small horses which offered to take you up. It was a bumpy ride
very close to the edge but allowed me to gain strength for the bits after the 28 bends. At the top of the bends I dismounted and was treated to a view of the stone which the famous tiger leaped across the gorge to escape the hunter.

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The final bit was plain sailing due to relative flatness, less sunlight and regained leg strength. We got to the guesthouse only 50 Minsk behind the leaders of Rob and Charlie. I then got a well deserved Dali beer, had a shower then had a fantastic feast.

Posted by Yeebles 17:43 Archived in China Tagged foot Comments (0)

Biking in Lijiang

Part2 of tlg

semi-overcast 25 °C
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Our first day in lijiang started at around 9:00 when Rob and I decided to try some of the local dish of dough with an egg cooked on top. It was very filling and made me feel even more like the bike ride along the busy streets of Lijiang and surrounding villages would be a strugle.

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When we got to Ali Babas bike rental, we got a rough map and a mountain bike. Then we off onto the busy streets of Lijiang, I was surprised at how easy it was to navigate around the traffic (although a convoy of 11 bikes meant we had road presence). I was even more surprised I could still ride a bike competently. We took a main road (where locals got to see the rare sight of tourists on bikes) followed by a dirt track so we could avoid the local toll. Baishu was a proper local village compared to Lijiang. Local shops were filled with local crafts so I guess it did cater to tourists. As well as the local crafts I got to meet the famous Dr. Ho who is 87 years old and a master in Chinese herbal medicine.

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his house/clinic was covered with newspaper articles and television shows in which he has been featured many with world renouned broadcasters like th BBC. He diagnosed me as healthy with no problems but gave me a bag of his special healthy tea.

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After baishu we cycled to another touristy village where we saw a couple getting their wedding shots being taken beside a stream. We had a tasty local banquet which had a nice ammount of spice. We then wandered around a bit then rode back to lijiang on a nice smooth un cobbled road.

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We were welcomed back by Dancers.

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In the evening Rob and I went to try some local dishes such as Naxi roast pork. We then went to get ready for tomorrow's trek

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Posted by Yeebles 17:09 Archived in China Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Off to Lijiang

Part 1 of the tiger leaping gorge

overcast 25 °C
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This post will describe the first few days to the tiger leaping gorge trip we did with interpid. Well it all started with our orientation meeting in Kunming. We got to meet our fellow travellers which consisted of 4 other Brits, 3 aussies, and 2 americans and our guide: Merrick. After sorting out formalities we went to a nearby resturaunt where we had a group banquet.

The next day we got up nice and early to catch a public coach to lijiang which would take hours. The coach was fairly comfortable. However, we were all unsettled when we saw an identical coach loose control on a high way exit and head straight towards us but smash into a concrete barrier seperating the different directions of traffic. I attempted to sleep on the coach but was unsuccessful as the driver used his horn as a warning to other cars that he was about to overtake them and the coach was the fastest vehicle on the highway. Anyways when awake I got some fantastic views of the countryside and a quick glimpse at a milatry training facility.

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When we got to Lijiang it seemed to be as urban as Kunming which was really dissappointing. We walked up what appeared to be a steep back street to the guest house (which was lovely and had the most comfy beds so far). However, when Merrick took us on our orientation after dinner it became clear he real attraction of lijiang was the old town with narrow streets, old style buildings, shops, canals and really loud bars. It was packed with Chinese tourists. Now although I'd like to say this was the real lijiang the old town was clealy only there for the tourists. However it was still really nice and there were a few of the local Naxi people.

Anyways the next post will talk about the bike ride around lijiang and nearby villages.

Posted by Yeebles 22:04 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Trains and Kunming

sunny 27 °C
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After leaving Felix's house at 7.30on Friday morning we caught a 2 hour inter city train to Guangzhou. After an anxios hour in Guangzhou east station trying to find our courier we we secured our tickets for the next leg to Kunming.after taking a taxi across the city to the main station which we discovered had all information in Mandarin characters. Having followed a crowd of people we ended up on the train which was our home for the next 25 hours. Conditions weren't too bad with us on middle bunks that seemed to be exactly the same length as me.

Today we went and explored Kunming going to visit a temple and wandering around the streets of the city. Tomorrow our trip starts with a 9 hour bus ride to Lijiang.

Posted by robbiet239 02:23 Archived in China Tagged train_travel Comments (2)

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