Lijiang, Old - New City
Because we resigned from trekking around Emei Shen, we arrived to Lijiang few days before we planned. Emei Shen is one of the five holy mountains in China. We gave up because of the weather – snow and wind, and the cost. When we found out that for it costs more than 400 Yuan for one person it helped us to take the decision.
For the first time during this trip we booked the flight tickets. The price was the same as for the train (hard sleeper) and we saved 1.5 days on the way. (NB: If you plan to travel with local flight companies always check if your luggage is included in the ticket price –especially with website like ctrip.com).
In Lijiang beautiful and warm sun welcomed us. First thing we did, it was to find the most sunlit place at the terrace of the hostel and go for small nap. After such a promising start, the rest of the day, we spent hanging around the old town. The place is worth to see, especially when it is not the rush hours. We were very lucky and we could admire Chinese architecture without the crowd.
6:30 am – we are ready for a coffee. At the old town we found a nice coffee shop and for 40 Yuan we bought a box of Yunnan Café. Now we can talk! Using a filter and trying to make a drip from a flower pot – what an adventure. But it’s not the point. Our small bags are ready to go to Tiger Leaping Gorge with a beautiful - shining as a jade - Yangtze River. By bus we arrived to Qian Tou. At 10:00 we were ready to rock. The maps available in the hostels or tourist agencies are so bad, that we don’t know exactly where we are going but what is sure, we have at least 7 hours of trekking. The weather is just perfect. Strong and full sun. We are so happy 🙂 …Oh, naive people, you don’t know what is in front of you… After leaving the bus we met first polish people from Łódź! Regards Sylwia and Filip!
At the very beginning of the road our hearts were already pounding strong. We were going up very fast, the way being just steep. No time for warm-up. Starts to be interesting… We are almost by ourselves on the road. The few people from our bus were already gone or behind us. We even got first help offer – cute mules are ready to go with the bags or even people on the top. Well, maybe not this time 🙂 The road is steep with a lot of exposure, not too much signs and not even one secure railing at this point but it’s ok. Those ones afraid of heights can have troubles here. After 2 hours we reached the 28 bends. They cannot make any impression on us because we don’t care anymore… The sun is already trying to kill us. So hot…
Slowly, step by step, drying our sweat and drinking a lot of water, we reached the highest point of the trekking – 2670 m. After that the way started to be comfortable 🙂 We were crossing over the mountains with a beautiful view on the other side of the canyon. What a beautiful place! After 3pm we arrived to the first hostel ‘Tea Horse’ and enjoyed a spectacular terrace. What a nice break for cold drinks!
You don’t have to buy too much food or drinks for the way, there are few people selling basics drinks and snacks on the road.
Our goal for the first day was to reach the ‘Half way’ hostel and we hit the place around 6pm. The last part of the road was just great, flat and calm. We had a lot of time to admire the landscape. Yangtze meanders down there and the sun is going slowly down. Just have a look at the pictures…
PS:. Do not hesitate to use sun cream. To have it in your bag is not enough… Our right side suffered a lot.
Ps: In ‘Half way’ David made a new record of the longest sleep during this trip. So far 8:30 pm – 9.00 am! Bravo cheri:
Closer and closer to Yangtze...
The second day we started with a breakfast discovery: kind of chinese-Sunday-scrambled-eggs-at-Rafał’s-place which means – delicious noodle soup with eggs, tomatoes and green onion. We love it!
Again, we tried to read the map. It doesn’t make sense. We only knew that we had to go down and at the end of the day we should find Walnut Village. So, let’s go! With a broken heart we left our view-room but in this same time we could not wait to look at the Yangtze from closer.
The road started really nice, easy but again a lot of sun exposure. This time even more. Passing by waterfalls we were wondering how it could be during the rainy season… Can be dangerous without any protection. After 2 hours we were in ‘Tina’s Guest House’ with the path going straight to the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Very, very steep. We went through the famous 30m ladder… It’s impressive. Thanks to the local people we have some protections here. It takes 1 hour to get to the river (maybe less, depends on each of us 🙂 ). After finding flat place at the rocks to seat down we were just hypnotized by the water flow….
How much TLG can cost?
The bus from Lijiang to Qian Tou, 1 ticket bought in the hostel – 40 RMB
Water and different snacks which you can buy at the road – 5 RMB/piece
The bed in the dorm – around 40 RMB
Dinner – vegetables rice 10-20 RMB, breakfast – soup 10-20RMB
Fees – main ticket 65 RMB, in the gorge we spent 25 RMB for two different paths
Local Bus ticket from Walnut Village to Haba Village – 40 RMB
Mini bus ticket from Haba Village to Lijiang – 50 RMB
Why do you need to pay for the way?
Well, in China you need to pay each time you want to see something – temples, parks, view points, forests, lakes, mountains etc. Very often prices are a bit crazy. In Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge you need to pay to enter different parts of the circuit. But this time in our opinion it was fair to pay. The government does not take care about the place. Local people build the path by themselves in the rocks. They also take care of rope protections. Looks like it is thanks to them that it is possible to make this route without a guide and special equipment. You can spend more than 25 RMB, depending on where you want to go and how. We didn’t go to each view point as we were happy enough from what we already saw.
But going back to the road, thanks to Lily from EcoTourism… our room in Walnut Village was waiting for us. Here you have more details about Lily and communities commitment for a better tourism.
If you want to go to Walnut Village you have two options. First, going up just after the last fee point (the one made in the rock), you will reach the main asphalt road which will take you to the point. But maybe more pleasant and more adventurous could be the half-wild way. For that option, you need to continue the way of the river. This path is a bit like ‘no way’; a bit through the plants, grass, very steep at some point…. Aaaaaaaaaa!!!! Where were we going?!!! It was so steep that I prefered to not look on my right. I could only notice the river and its shining surface. Was it the right way? We were even thinking to go back but “let’s see a bit more”… After few minutes we could notice two people going the same way. So, we could continue. We started to feel more confident and we realized how beautiful is this road. Mountains, Yangtze… It is so quiet and peaceful. After 1 hour we could notice small gardens on the way and the village. Hope it’s our village! Yes! We found a hostel and again, before the dinner we enjoyed beautiful view from the terrace with a green tea. If you have a chance to try the dumplings stuffed with yak cheese and honey, go for it! What a mix! Strong taste of cheese and wild honey, mmm!!!!
It is our third day in TLG and we took the decision to stay one more night in the next village – Haba. You can go over there with a guide, through the mountains (8h) or you can take a local bus.
In Haba we are welcomed by Mr Bao, the owner of the hostel. Looks like he is the number one in the village for a lot of things. Since the beginning we communicate only with google translator and the body language. Since the beginning he has started to feed us with a lot of snacks and of course green tea. After few minutes he decides to take us for a small walk in the village, he talks with everybody and thanks to that we have the opportunity to see how the people are living here. Haba Village is located just in the front of Haba Mountain (5400 m). You can normally reach the summit in 2-3 days… I’ve already analyzed what we have with us and if it is possible to try… 🙂 Well, not that time but for sure it is worth to come back one day and do it.
For the first time ever we both try yak meat with fried leaves of something on the side. And of course, rice. After such a great dinner we cannot say no for a small cigarette and a beer with Mr. Bao.
The amplitude of the temperature between the days and night is really big in this part of China . During the night is very cold, so we are more than happy to use electrical blankets in our bed. In the morning it is so difficult to leave the bed, but the breakfast perspective is promising. For the first time (again) we drink yak butter tea. It is delicious and Ms Bao is making it just in the front of us, like the rest of the food. Perfect! We have a Tibetan experience here – butter tea, special pancakes with nuts and wild honey, and home-made yogurt from ….yak milk of course! We feel so pity that we cannot communicate in their language. We would have so many questions….