Last sunrise watch in Yubeng.
In the morning, Si Tu and I set off to exit the village in a different direction from the one we entered in. We hiked through a gorge ot Ninong village. The scenery changed from high alpine to dusty desert mountains with a bright blue river in the valley. Next to our path was a trench of flowing water that goes all the way to provide the people of Ninong with water. Whereas Yubeng's houses were wooden, many of the houses in this arid treeless climate were made of mud bricks. We stopped in Ninong to buy some drinks (there is orange soda in the middle of nowhere!) and the store owner invited us in to sit, chat, and eat New Years snacks.
It was quite a long walk to Xidang where we would be able to get a ride to Feilaisi. Across the gorge we could see workers blasting out bits of th emountain side to make way for a new road. On our side, we had to climb over a huge rock slide (why does this always happen in Western China???) which was probably man-made as on the other side was the beginnings of a road to Ninong.
Unfortunately there were only two of us to split the 180 kuai van back to Feilaisi. In Feilaisi we discovered that there weren't any tickets left for the bus from Deqin to Shangrila, but there were two other travelers who were willing to split a cab for 200 kuai a person. That is a problem with traveling in the few days before and after the Spring Festival. The busses are rather limited or they don't run, so you have to hire a car for 2 to 3 times the price of a bus ticket. The two guys who took the cab with us were nice. They were two colleagues from Xi'an, and one actually did his undergrad at Wuhan University.
Back in Shangrila, Si Tu and I took the #1 bus from the bus station to the Old Town and checked in at the good old Barley Hostel. Some of the most comfortable beds in China! Then I took the #3 bus to the Songzanlin Monastery. I guess the locals can take the bus all the way there, but they made me get off the bus, buy a 55 kuai (student price, 85 full) entrance ticket, and take
Spattered all over the hike back.
a different tourist bus. There were loud Chinese tour groups, but it was still pretty cool and the first time I had been to a monastery. The tapestries covering the doors had mysterious symbols on them and the building style and windows were Tibetan. The paintings and decorations inside were more intricate than in temples farther East. Also there were chanting monks in red robes and you could walk by their nearby living quarters.
There was a list of the various things you need to do while inside the temple such as take your hat off and always go around things in a clockwise direction. I got all confused though because what is clockwise depends on where the clock is. Also one time I found myself between two things and I couldn't go clockwise around both of them! There is a lake in front of the temple. On my way to circle around the lake, I met an architect from Belgium who is working in Chongqing. We chatted and circled the lake together, then parted ways.
Back at the hostel, I met up with Si Tu and the other guy staying in our room, and English teacher from
New Zeland. His Chinese was funny but really quite decent and he was an effective and not self-conscious communicator. He had a lot to say, which was good for Si Tu and me, because I think we are both types who don't make a lot of conversation without some prompting. For Si Tu's sake, the three of us conversed in Chinese over vegetarian hot pot and Dali beer. As Lijiang's Old Town is touristy Naxi stuff, Shangrila's Old Town is touristy Tibetan stuff. So at night, Si Tu and I wandered around and saw the big lit-up temple and spun around the several story -tall prayer wheel. Then early to bed in order to catch the 8 am bus to Xiangcheng.
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