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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 26.9025, 99.9316
We are loving the late starts - Thupten is really spoiling us. After a lean breakfast we departed with Thupten and Tofu for our 200 kms cross mountain adventure that included a visit to Tiger Leaping Gorge and the final destination of Lijiang.
And yes, @MrsAngell the temperature differentials continue as we change altitude although we are not noticing so much as we only have to brave a brisk walk to breakfast and then to the car.
We gave thanks for our driver as we travelled along the circuitous mountain road that included the mandatory set of switch backs. Our journey to Tiger Leaping Gorge took less than two hours thanks to the new road....two years ago it would have been a four hour journey on a less than favourable tract.
The journey was worth it. Tiger Leaping Gorge was a spectacular chasm that stretches for 16 kms in the upper reaches of the Jinsha River. The story is that a tiger was being pursued relentlessly by a hunter and made a miraculous escape by leaping across the gorge using the single stone in the middle of the gorge as its launching point to safety. There are three viewing areas of the
I was determined that I was not going to use the rickshaw....success...we made it!
gorge - and it can be viewed from the Shangri-La or Lijiang side. The upper gorge, which includes the rock, the tiger and 42 billion stairs was our vantage point. Thupten did make a good choice for us - and decided not to take us to the middle reach as this required you to scale up and down ladders attached to the cliff face ...um, good choice Thupten.
The gorge again is a slick operation to provide maximum access to as many tourists as possible. I was determined to avoid using the rickshaws! For a mere 150 RMB two wiry bearers would carry you either up or down the 42 billion steps. And to make it worse they pick their targets. If you are an overweight, old Australian woman they send out a team of "urgers" to meet you at every landing and tempt you with a ride. But slow and steady wins the race...and we had so much fun talking ( in any language other than English) with all the other rickshaw candidates who were equally challenged...it was loads of fun. And I can tell you .... water never tasted so great!
Our lunch was good bye to Thupten and we
Across the way was the Lijiang access. We were on the Shangri-La side of the gorge.
enjoyed this on the fourth floor rooftop restaurant overlooking the gorge and gazing up at tomorrow's destination of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. And of course, there were no lifts, and after the 42 billion stairs of The Gorge, we had to scale the steps to reach the top floor. But it was worth it and the food and the company was great. Again, what a feast. Thupten not only orders the food... he goes into the kitchen of every restaurant and supervises the combinations that are created to ensure they meet our tastes!
We did the guide change and were introduced to NeNe who would now travel with us...driven by Tofu....for the Lijiang part of our tour. We were very sad to say good bye to Thupten. But, change is good...new perspectives....and new quirks to keep us on our toes.
More travel through mountains and country roads and soon we were at the viewing platform for the First Bend of the Yangtze. Its significance was lost on us just a little, but NeNe tried to make sense of it for us and it was made a little more palatable as we enjoyed fresh strawberries bought from a local farmer by Tofu.
and passing...to make our way to the Old Town of a Naxi Village...a village that is honoured because of the help the villagers gave to The Red Army during The Long March. It was extremely run down, almost deserted and had an acrid stench of the pigstys that were clustered under each house. But we smiled and walked and listened to NeNe's commentary.
We had been with NeNe for about 3 hours when we realised that her name was actually Lily! She did tell us that most of her guests confused her name as NeNe, Mimi or MiniMango! Go figure.
Lily has been a barrel of laughs. She is extremely regimented and I think that our relaxed, come what may, let's take 10 minutes instead of her nominated and timed 7 minutes is challenging her "stickler for the itinerary" approach. But we are persevering.
Lily has taken great joy in introducing us to her 18 month old son - Kevin....via photos. What a challenge life is for young families. Kevin is with his grandmother - and Lily and her husband have not seen him for 30 days....and it looks like the next month is more of the same. They both have to work
in the city and cannot take care of him in the peak tourist season. They are both English speaking guides and need to take advantage of the work when it becomes available. Lily is Han and her husband is Naxi minority...which means they can have two children. But Lily is not confident that this will happen. The threat of the expense associated with having a second boy overwhelms any maternal feelings.
We did have a hearty laugh when Lily described her husband as a fat, lazy Naxi man who loves to cook spicy fish. I am looking for an equally succinct description of Mac!
Dinner was in The Old Town of Lijiang...within walking distance of our hotel. It is a maze of roads and laneways and every inch of the complex is devoted to removing the yuan from your pockets. What a sea of people for a week night. After a couple of false starts over the menu we settled on a couple of meat dishes , some veges, rice and a coke. We had rejected tomato, potato, tofu, eggplant and beer....and Lily was not too happy. But we eventually worked it out and rounded out the night with a McDonald's ice
cream as an accompaniment to our backstreet walk home.
I know, I am halfway around China and I need to get over the toilet stories but I truly can't. Today at the restaurant the only choice was a squat double. Matching little options in a cubicle that opened onto the foyer that welcomed the restaurant guests that of course had no latch. There was no way that I could keep the door closed and use one of the loos. Never fear, the forward thinking Fab5 had provided me with an "extension". So with one cheek pressed against the door, Sheweena locked and loaded and the extension deployed I was more reliable than a long range missile. I was piddling myself laughing - literally. Oh, the joys of toileting in Asia. Bring on the next challenge - and thank you to the Fab5.
Off to bed to gain strength for more Lilyisms.
Pedometer Reading: 12 126
Temperature: 8 C Shangri-La to 26 C Lijiang
@ShirleyDMac ..glad you are enjoying...the treat for us is at the end we get to "push a button" and the blog is published and printed as a book. Be prepared to be bored when we return!
@MrsAngell ..thinking of the JPC crew as
they return to work...enjoy xox
@AuntGail ...Sparkie just has a funny way of showing appreciation. Thanks for taking care of the home front.
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