Tiger Leaping Gorge

23 Aug

Dear friends will know my opinions on excessive amounts of exercise (unless you’re running for the bus…), but after a few days on the Chinese Tourist treadmill, 3 days in the wild was sounding pretty appealing. True to form, LP’s 11 buses leaving from Lijiang turned out to be 1, and we’d well and truly missed it. So out to negotiate a mini van to take us to Qiaotou… We eventually scored a ride with a Chinese couple, paying 60Y per couple. Of course, 5 minutes out of town we’re joined by two more Chinese, and asked to pay 20 more. Nope. Nope. Umm, how else can I say “Mayo”? Eventually, and thanks to Vincent, a Shanghi resident who’s missing Newtown, the price goes up to 70, but now includes a transfer across the bridge to enter Qiaotou town proper.(apparently mini vans from Lijiang can’t cross). Once all that was sorted, it was a lovely ride up to Qiaotou, including a pass through a cow and pony market – how much for my very own pony? 5000Y, or $AUD900. Bargain.

Qiaotou itself is a pretty shitty town – full of tourist buses and not much else. Still, we said a reluctant goodbye to more friendly Chinese and headed to Margo’s cafe, the Gorged Tiger, to dump some luggage and grab some info. Margo seemed a bit frazzled, and on hearing that Aussie accent, I expected to be served Saos and Vegemite for lunch. While running around in super short shorts, she very sensibly told us just to take it easy. No issues there. The length of the trek is dotted with Guesthouses, Inns and little stalls, making it appealing to even the least fit traveller (me). So our route through the Gorge:

Day 1: 2 hours afternoon walk up to Naxi Family Guesthouse (Vincent and his girlfriend just beat us to the best 30Y room).

Day 2: a late start, a migraine and a bit of drizzle sees Ros cop out and take a pony up the “28 bends” – helping local family make ends meet by paying 100Y for this lovely young gentleman to hop skip and jump lead his mum’s pony up the steep, slippery track.

We got to Tea Horse Guesthouse for lunch and decide to stay the night (40Y). Again, a tops place, although like everywhere in China they’re doing a lot of work on the place (we could have had a shiny new room for 120Y).

Day 3: dawned bright and sunny, a great walk to Tina’s for a late lunch of Naxi sandwich (yummy scrambled egg and tomato inside fresh baked flat bread). Then onto Shaun’s (50Y for the least nice room we had on the trek), where we drank Gin and Tonics with an Intrepid tour group, lead by Margo herself, and played with possibly the cutest kittens ever cuddled by Ros.

Day 4 was supposed to be a very easy very sneaky lift with Intrepid back to Qiaotou and on to Zhongdian, but some small, pesky landslides and 2 high maintenance tour member meant all bets were off. Eventually we found a couple of other Aussies, Marcus and Dee, to share a convoy of minivans along the new “low” road back to town. A little scary, as we cruised past cleared avalanches, subsiding road and precarious rocks above the road.

Note to travellers (care of Margo): When one is crossing a landslide, one should have a friend to spot for more falling rocks, take it slow and steady up the slope, then employ a “hot coals” treading technique over the top, watching for slipping, unsteady pieces of slipper slate. And don’t look down.

These landslides are commonplace, and we regularly heard the sound of dynamite used to clear them. One van had been caught between two slides, ferrying passengers between each crossing. We made the crossing in good weather and had no problems, but I wouldn’t want the job of a bus driver round these parts. I make no comment about the wisdom of creating a road into a pristine gorge so tour buses can drive back and forth along a road than can be covered with tonnes of rubble at any point!

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One Response to “Tiger Leaping Gorge”

  1. cicc August 28, 2007 at 1:12 am #

    dearest rossy and blake.you can imagine my delight when a letter with far too many stamps to count and addressed from someone in Canterbury?! I openned contained a dvd of the most divine goddess B.Even though I already own two copies of this audio visual documentation of one of the most historically significant events of our generation, I can’t imagine why I shouldn’t own three.I am yet to play the masterpiece. However I do hope that when I view it the vocals will be overdubbed so as when you both return I can perform ‘Naughty Girl’ in Vietnamese for you.thank you very much. As I salivate over the images of those 80c dumplings I wonder if a dimsim from the dirty bird shop in redfern will come anywhere close.P x xps I’m moving to London in October.

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