I had some serious doubts whether to do this trek or not… I definitely wanted to do it, but wasn’t exactly keen on doing it on my own… but then decided to go for it after all, you never know, maybe it’s the first and last time I put my foot around here… and what’s more this place might not look the same after a few years anymore as there are some serious works going on around here at the river at the moment… As soon as I decided to do this trip I found out that my new Slovenian friends from Dali were doing it on the same day as well, so it looked like I would be having a company after all! Great! 😊
I booked a bus from the old town to Qiaotou (35 yuan) as that’s where the trekking is starting. I was pleasantly surprised to see my friends jumping on the bus a bit after Lijiang, we could start our trek together from the very beginning then! There were a few more foreign tourists on the bus with us, as well as a bunch of young Chinese guys. Looked like there was going to be a larger
group marching up the gorge… Once we got to Qiaotou, we paid the 65 yuan entrance fee, picked up our bags and were ready to hike up the gorge. We almost got lost at the very beginning but thankfully there was a Dutch couple walking ahead of us, so once we saw them coming back we knew we must have missed an arrow somewhere… And we did… It was a very short detour though… It was quite humid that day but thankfully the sun was hiding behind clouds, so the walk was quite pleasant – at the beginning at least! Straight away you are surrounded by beautiful scenery – walking on the side of the hill, the mountain peaks visible right in front of you and on your right you can see the river bending far away in the distance in between the rice fields… Beautiful! There was a lovely spot on the way perfect to take photos, I guess the locals have noticed that also, as they put up a little stand there with water and some snacks and actually started charging for photos there!!! Not much as I think it was 3yuan, but still… ridiculous! I didn’t see
anyone taking photos there or even stopping to get a drink there, so instead of making money they just scare away the potential customers… Also a few people with ponies passed us by at the beginning, was wondering where they were off to, but didn’t need to wait for an answer too long as they were simply waiting for someone to get tired along the way and charge the tourists to take them up the hill (or at least ‘help out’ with their luggage). It was funny to see a couple of Korean tourists taking up on that offer after half an hour of walking only…
We stopped for lunch at Naxi Family Guesthouse, quite a nice place, except the toilet… My first encounter with this weird Chinese invention! Looks kind of alright (veeeery basic) from outside, two doors, so you would’ve expected two toilets right? Wrong!!! As inside there are two squats facing each other, divided by a tiny wall only… and that’s not the end, as the hole where you’re supposed to be doing your business in, is just a long one going through all the squats, so whoever is going to the last one (the two last ones
were for women actually) has a chance to see everybody else’s ‘business’. No privacy at all and pretty disgusting as well… And I thought the squats in Nepal were bad!!!
After a portion of fried rice, we were ready to face the 28 bends… Actually the way up to the 28 bends was bad enough already! It was getting more and more humid and it seemed like it was going to rain any moment now… Still we made it all the way to the top – at this stage all the ponies were busy running up and down picking up tired tourists. At the top there was another stand with drinks and snacks… and stashes of hash as well! Just lying there out in the open! Was quite surprised to see that actually! Of course there was a lady there charging for photos as well – this time it was 8 yuan, per photo!!!! Well I surely wasn’t going to pay one euro per photo, besides few metres away there were exactly the same view for free (if not better)! Still saw a couple of Korean tourists taking quite a few photos there and fighting with the lady over the price
later on, pretty funny sight actually! 😉
We were pretty tired once we got to Tea-Horse Trade Guesthouse and were wondering whether to head further or just stay here, but then we found out that it was meant to be pretty stormy the next day so thought it would be best to get to the next guesthouse just in case – two hours instead of four on muddy path seemed like a better idea for sure! We weren’t sure whether there were any free rooms left there though as a big group of Korean tourists was heading there as well. Thankfully the Chinese guys we saw on the bus spoke English and rang the guesthouse for us to find out if there were free rooms there. Once we got the confirmation we set off to Half Way Guesthouse. It’s mostly flat path between the guesthouses so it wasn’t that bad at all especially that it turned out that the other two couples (Dutch and American) from the bus were staying there as well, so it was a pretty good decision to head there as well. We had a nice dinner and some beers altogether, even the owner, Frankie, joined us for
a moment, so a very pleasant evening after a hard day’s walk... 😊 Once we were falling asleep we were wondering what weather we were going to wake up to, hoping that the storm would come once we left this place…
Unfortunately it was raining when we woke up and you actually couldn’t see anything further than 100 metres – basically we were right in the middle of the rain clouds! We were quite reluctant to leave the guesthouse and walk in the rain, but after waiting an hour or two – having a looong breakfast that is, it didn’t seem like the weather was going to change any time soon, so decided to move on anyway… It sure was pretty miserable on the way… And it was a shame we couldn’t see anything as the views around must have been spectacular! We could only hear that we were passing waterfalls on the way and once in a while a tiny bit of the river was visible through the clouds, but beside that we were just putting one foot in front of the other carefully not to fall on the slippery stones. Too bad… We got to Tina’s guesthouse all soaked
and just waited patiently for the bus back to Lijiang. You could do a walk down to the middle gorge – apparently beautiful views from there also – but since I had only my trainers on (hiking boots back at home already), so thought I might just skip it this time, almost landed on my butt a couple of times walking down to Tina’s already… There is a part where you have to climb the ladder as well, so yep! Not too good with my slippery shoes…
It sure was a shame that we didn’t see anything the second day of trekking, but at least were lucky with the weather on the first day… I’ll sure be back here one day to do the trek properly, all the way to Daju that is! And hopefully I will be more lucky with the weather then! It was time to get back to Lijiang and next day jump on my overnight bus… Next stop: Chengdu!
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