Trip Start Aug 28, 2004
47Trip End Oct 01, 2005
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We decided to do the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek in the end and it was absolutely amazing. There are 2 trails, the low (not so scenic, along a road but usually safer as there are not so many sheer drops) and the high (very pretty but a bit dangerous due to lots of ladders and cliffs etc). They've both been officially closed since June due to flooding and landslides, but we'd read that it was really only the low one that was affected so we went ahead and did the high trail anyway. In fact it was better that way because the closure meant that we didn't have to pay!
We started the trek in a place called Qiatou...we had a bit of trouble getting going though because we couldn't find the start of the trail!
We walked for about 5 and a half hours on the first day. The path started off pretty easy although it was a tad muddy - we really could have done with hiking boots instead of trainers. About two hours into it we hit the part called the 24/28/30 bends (depends where you read it!), which was a series of steep bends up the mountain (kinda obvious I suppose) - that part knackered us out! We spent the first night at the Halfway Guest House....the views were amazing. It cost about 1 pound each for a room facing the gorge, so out of the window all we could see were fields below and snow capped mountains above.
The next part of the walk was along a path high on the mountain. The drop off the edge was quite scary, but the path was wide enough so it wasn't a problem most of the time - only when we had to cross the odd waterfall! We opted for getting our feet wet and keeping our balance instead of trying to hop between dry rocks and falling off
From there, the path descended down to the road and there was supposed to be an option to continue down to the river to see the rapids - this is where all of the dangerous ladders and ledges were supposed to be, but we couldn't find the path (again!!) so gave up and opted for finding food instead!
The trek ended in a tiny place called Daju on the opposite side of the river. To cross the river we were told we could either walk 40 mins up the road and get the new ferry or 4 hours to the old ferry. We would have preferred the new ferry but were told that it was shut, so when some blokes at the entrance tried to beckon us in we decided not to risk it in case they were going to rob us or something! The walk to the old ferry killed us though - it was absolutely boiling and we were wearing jeans and didn't have enough water. Our guidebook made it sound really easy to find the ferry - not at all! In the end, after attempting to get across the words 'ferry to Daju' during a hand signal conversation with a local, we found out we had to walk through this village thing along the road, then through a load of houses until we found some fields and then along a path for ages until we got to a cliff and stumbled upon the path going down to the ferry! We had to sit on the edge waiting for the ferry for over an hour before he decided to come across and get us - we were a bit worried because they didn't look like they were going to bother, in which case we'd have been stuck (the nearest place to stay overnight was about 5 hours behind us)!
All in all we didn't think it was as dangerous as people made out, although we did miss out the middle rapids which is supposed to be the dodgiest bit. There was the odd hairy moment hopping through the high waterfalls and some of the paths would be lethal in the rain, but all in all I wouldn't say it's the hardest thing I've ever done! Having said that, several people have been killed there, and one lad went missing there in August so it's not to be taken lightly.
The next day we got a cable car up to a place called Yak Meadow, in the hope of seeing that snowy mountain that was covered in cloud the last time we went to see it - yet again it was covered in cloud so we gave up and got a bus to a place called Dali.
Dali was really nice - we went up another cable car up the mountain there, which had gorgeous views over the lake and some pretty walks around waterfalls etc. Tiger Leaping Gorge really had taken it out of us though and we couldn't be bothered doing anything, so we didn't stay long and went and sat and read our books in a cafe over a bottle of revolting Chinese 'Great Wall' red wine! It was quite funny at one point on the mountain though - one stupid chinese bloke climbed down to one of the waterfalls to get his photo taken, but slipped and fell all the way down it!!! Somehow, he managed to keep his glasses and cap on (it was quite a powerful waterfall!) and when he got to the bottom it was obvious he couldn't swim cos he kept going under! So what did all the chinese tourists do - you guessed it, they ran down and took photos - not one of them went to help him. Eventually one of the people that worked there donned some sort of waterproof outfit and went to his aid
The next day we flew to a place called Xishuangbanna, where we are now. We wanted to do a 2 day walking tour around some minority villages but the tour guide woman wasn't here so we found ourselves with nothing to do. On Thursday we hired a driver to take us to see a waterfall in the rainforest, but we gave up after 30 mins of walking down an overgrown path and decided just to sit around and wait for our driver to come back - we were quite glad we did cos when another lad that was ahead of us came back, he'd managed to rip several holes into his trousers (one went all the way from his undies to his knees!) and was scratched something rotten!! When we got here it was really sunny, so we thought a good way to pass yesterday and today would be to book into the 4 star hotel here and sunbathe around the pool - no such luck! When we woke up yesterday the heavens had opened so we ended up staying in our not so amazing hostel drinking coffee and beer all day - I suppose there are worse ways to spend the day though!
People keep emailing us passing on their condolences regarding the toilet situation here in China!! Whilst they are the worst toilets we've ever encountered in our lives, it's not affecting our enjoyment too much, so no need to worry!! Perhaps I may have referred to them a little more than necessary! We were looking through the photos the other day when the one of the toilet popped up...the bloke sitting next to us was seriously unimpressed and mumbled something about us having nothing better to take photos of - cheeky git!
Anyway, we're off to Thailand now - or at least we hope we are! You can stay up to 30 days in Thailand without a visa and we'll only be there a week before heading to Laos, but we don't want to book the flight yet since we don't know exactly what day we want to go on. That means we may have trouble getting on the flight as we have no proof that we're leaving within 30 days - fingers crossed it'll be ok cos we don't want to have to hang around here any longer!