A Travellerspoint blog

Tiger Leaping Gorge

sunny 18 °C
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So, to Tiger Leaping Gorge, the world's deepest river canyon. The hair raising bus ride in down the canyon side gave us a taste of things to come - bumping down the narrow, partially surfaced road with a drop of hundreds of feet to the river below.

We stayed at Sean's Guesthouse at Walnut Garden, with the most amazing view straght onto the gorge from our £2.50 a night room!

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The next morning we set off - the hike was a real challenge, for the nerves as much as for the legs, with a sheer drop of several thousand feet next to a path only a few feet wide cut into the mountain side. My heart still beats faster just thinking about it, particularly remembering negotiating obstacles like the waterfall running over the path!

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At the end of the first day's walking we stayed at the Naxi family guesthouse with excellent food and a very warm welcome.

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The next day we made our way slowly to Qiaotou, and began the long trip towards home.

Posted by magykal1 12.03.2007 12:20 Archived in China Comments (0)

Zhongdian

snow 4 °C
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We made it to the Tibetan plateau!

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Zhongdian is a slightly wild and rugged town in the middle of a grassy plain grazed by yaks, surrounding by huge snow-capped mountains.

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It snowed as we arrived and continued to be cold - well it is winter, at 11,000 feet.

The local Tibetans are famous for two things, we're told - knives and fierce dogs. Don't see too many knives, but do encounter some fierce dogs on a walk up to some rather lovely temples surrounded by prayer flags hanging from trees.

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We met some chinese-speaking Americans, who rather usefully negotiated us a Tibetan hotpot at pretty much the only place in town that was open.

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Next morning we went to the Sompasteling Monastery, one of the most amazing buildings I've ever seen, a higgledy-piggledy complex of big white temples filled with luridly covered carvings and buzzing with activity, particularly from the monks.

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We spent the afternoon driving around the surrounding area, looking at Tibetan houses, lakes and yak meadows.

Stayed at the Himalayan Garden Inn, which wasn't really open but they rented us a room anyway.

Posted by magykal1 12.03.2007 10:42 Archived in China Comments (2)

Lijiang

sunny 23 °C
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Well, what an interesting experience, lots of good and bad things about the Chinese tourist experience in Lijiang - a beautiful, and beautifully restored (there ws a major earthquake in 1997) traditional Chinese town, with an amazing maze of winding streets, canals, water wheels, temples, mansions and shophouses with the enormous peak of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain looming behind the town.

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Some of the 'experience' is almost unbearably tacky though, particularly the 'Bar Street' where Chinese tourists come to get drunk with other chinese dressed in ethnic costume.

The town is undeniably beautiful though, and we spent a whole day just wandering round - particularly the view across to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from the black dragon pool park, where we sat and drank delicious local tea for a few hours, watching the goldfish and staring at the snow.

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We also spent a day cycling to a few of the local villages - one, Shuhe, was another 'reconstuction' which exists purely for the purposes of tour groups - pretty, but with no soul - some nice views over the mountains though. Another, Baishu, was a lovely working village with genuine Naxi farmhouses and an obvious working life.

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Some great food in Lijiang - particularly the local Naxi barbecued fish and fried rice with cured ham, also a sizzling Yak platter!

We stayed at the excellent Moon Inn with very friendly staff and a comfortable room, and views over the old town and the mountain.

Posted by magykal1 04.03.2007 03:08 Archived in China Comments (0)

Dali

sunny 22 °C
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Spent a fantastic few days in Dali, a lovely old Chinese (Bai minority) town in the shadow of a 15,000 foot mountain by a huge lake.

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I spent one day taking Kung-Fu lessons on the North gate of the Old Town, with a Chinese fella who had spent ten years training in a Shaolin temple. Ouch, they make you do horrible stretches and all sorts, learnt quite a lot for a day.

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Ate some tremendous stuff, including a casserole of the local river fish, some kind of spicy chicken thing, some great dumplings, a tibetan lamb stew and the local potato pancake (suspiciously similar to Rosti).

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Also, went cormorant fishing - this is where the fishermen use trained cormorants to catch fish in the lake, and the cormorants regurgitate them into a bucket. Fantastic!

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Stayed at the Dali old town inn where the nice ensuite double room was a bargain 100 yuan, and there was a nice leafy courtyard and viewing platform with views of the mountain, staff could have been a bit more helpful though.

Posted by magykal1 01.03.2007 00:36 Archived in China Comments (0)

Kunming

sunny 22 °C
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And so to Kunming, real China.

Well, real, modern, westernised China anyway. Kunming is an attractive (apart from a bit smoggy), quite leafy city with wide streets and flashy new buildings all over.

We spent quite a lot of time trying to arrange tickets for the sleeper train to Guilin, which ultimately proved fruitless.

Also spent a lot of time wandering - Chinese folk seem to go about their daily business as you would expect from the clips you see, biking around with massive loads of fruit and clothes tied on to trailers, playing cards across tables laid out in the street etc.

Had a good, if fiery, Thai meal on the top floor of the Sakura hotel, with great views over the city and terrifying lifts that go up the outside of the building.

Stayed at the Camellia Hotel, along with pretty much everyone else from our flight apparently. Not luxury compared to our Hong Kong hotel, but comfortable enough, and what do you expect for a tenner?

Posted by magykal1 27.02.2007 16:23 Archived in China Comments (0)

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