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Published: October 30th 2009
After my last comment yesterday we went along the Gorge road and to the Old Ferry. The last section was on an old stone track, which turned into a bullock track with sand, gravel and boulders on its way down to the Yangtze. This was downhill and was too much of a temptation to Graham and myself and we ended up duelling down the track getting into wild slides and much shouting. Needless to say Graham won, he being twenty years my junior and obviously not as frightened of teh consequences. The last 200 yds were very dodgy where we had to carry our bikes on shoulders along a goat track ledge 30" wide alongside the fast flowing water. Eventually all got down and we crossed on the old ferry, which was naturally driven by an old single cylinder diesel (concrete mixer) engine. Once across we had the job of hauling our bikes up the other side, first across very fine loose sand which would mkae lovely valve grinding paste and then up 100 steps and then a goat track to the top with bikes on shoulders again. Not unnaturally the goats found it fun and beat us to the top. Our accommodation in Daju was quite primitive with toilets across the yard along a very narrow strip of concrete by a muddy pond. not much fun during my several nocturnal trips by the light of my mobile phone. On one trip I looked at the sky and was amazed by the number and clarity of the stars - something we never encounter in blighty- it was covered in thousands of bright lights, utterly amazing. Whilst we were waiting for the excellent evening meal (rice again) we went on a small machine in the yard a bit like a turnip chopper but with spikes, with which we stripped the maize from the cobs piled on the ground to dry. The old lass was very pleased that we were saving her some drudgery. We find most people very pleasant and do not mind their photograph being taken, which we cannot resist because they are very photogenic people with a ready smile.
Friday saw us set off before 9am to start what was to become our hardest day yet, all P & S (pain and suffering). After about 4 miles meandering through the villages on stone tracks and monstrous puddles we arrived at the foot of the most monstrous climb ever experienced by the human race. It climbed up through hairpin bends for over 20 miles, gaining 1500 metres to end up at a height of 3,200 metres. This was like Mont Ventoux with a kick in the tail but at 1000m higher. China's answer to the mountain of legend. Awesome. We thought that we were going to start a decent to Ligiang and a bit of a rest but this was not to be since we kept dropping and rising again and ended up crossing the tops of about three more moutains. The scenery was something else with the Jade Snowy Mountain in the background with the glacier in full show. Every corner has another incredible view and is is a temptation to take yet another photo. Eventually we swept down into the smoke of Ligang city 54 miles later along a 15 mile straight downhill road in brilliant sunshine, as always. I was in the front and was not sure whereabouts in the city our hotel was so I asked about five people, including a bank, where the 'Old City' was but no one understood a word of English, even the young ones. My Mandarin vocabulary of about ten words was obviously not sufficent to travel with. Our bikes were then placed in the bus for Mr Gow to take to Kunming. We are due to fly their tommorrow morning prior to a visit to the Stone Forest in the afternoon. We have one bus drivera Mr Gow, Tony Lin, a guide from the head office of Tang Dynasty Travel in Guilin and a local guide Martin? who is from Kunming and since we arrived in Lijiang another loacal guide 'Kelsey'. They adopt western names since we often struggle with the Chinese ones. Tony is very good on a bike and has ridden quite a way with us and also Martin at times. Our Tour Leader, Neil, fell off this afternoon on a very nasty three mile decent on sharp cobbles and hurt his wrist and little finger. He is currrently on the next computer to me typing one handed with is left hand in a bag of ice. Glad it is not me. We are going to a restaurant tonight which also does Italian food, I expect we all could do with a change, although I must say our meals have been very good so far.
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