Vertigo and The Tiger
Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
132Trip End Jan 04, 2012
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I stop the bus driver and he pulls over and then makes a quick phone call and esentially does nothing
Hero status achieved, I then become a wilting daisy as the bus begins it's Italian Job style drive through the gorge. Immense (not that I know anything of it). Sheer walls of rock stretch up either side of the brown river in turmoil below. The road snakes the upper reaches of the gorge with a white line providing the protection to a violent seatbeltless (not that it would make a difference, but this is what goes through my head) end. Kate loves it, gripped in her seat, nose pressed tightly against the window trying as hard as she can to join with the window. I consciously feel the need to press against the other side to balance out her eagerness. As an Engineer I understand that if everyone goes onto one side of the vehicle as all the keenies had done, it was more than likely very unstable!.
Every turn feels like the end as the bus rocks around the curves and the driver is completely non-plus.
AND THEN HE STARTS CHATTING AWAY ON HIS BLOODY MOBILE!!!!
I cringe, I falter, I feel weak all over and just close my eyes till it's over. The bus pulls to a halt at Middle TLG and I crawl out feeling like I've been through a thorough ordeal. A test of manliness and heroism and I've failed miserably. I am barely able to stand.
From the stop we walk to a hostel who have been maintaining paths to the lower gorge and the waters edge, so we have to pay for the privilidge of using their through-way. From this point, the other side of the gorge is closer than the bottom of the gorge which provides some gravitas to the steepness of the paths. The path winds, turns, dips, steepens and then you pass some horses (How the hell did they get down here?) and then you have to climb down a homemade ladder - wasn't keen on that. Legs shaking from the walk, the base is something quite outstanding and unmissable. From Tiger Leaping Stone, you can take in the tumultuous waters while being in awe of the sheer sided mountains, the top of which you cannot see.
Although more tiring going back up, I find it vastly easier as I only have to look at rock in front of me. The poorly fixed railing at shin height provides comfort at points if no real security is offered. My keeness to ascend means we cover the distance in about the same time as our descent, soaked in sweat and barely able to walk once again. But what a sight, staggeringly worth it.
A car in the ditch on the way home reminds me my fears are real and my vertigo will not leave me anytime soon.
Back to the hostel and dinner. To bed early for our 7 plus hour hard seater journey to Kunming. In our guidebook Lijiang promised a "Gorgeous town cut with waterways, decorated with local architecture and populated by the friendly Naxi minority". As our only real foray into the countryside, it did nothing but deliver.