Elephant Hill

Trip Start Apr 04, 2004
Trip End Jun 07, 2004

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Flag of China  ,
Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Continued from ; The piss artist

3rd May 2004

I did try to rent a bicycle but the one hotel renting a fleet of them didn't have a single one without signs of imminent mechanical failure. Unbelievable considering the busy holiday period - or perhaps their many customers are in too much of a hurry to inspect them, so who cares ? They also wanted my passport as a deposit. Absolutely not. Never must a passport be handed over as a deposit. It's not even mine ! ( It's the property of the British Government )

I am tackling Elephant hill instead. After rounding a pleasant lake, there are national park signs directing energetic people to a switchback of steps which climb to the summit of the hill. Once I am up there, there is a ridge which commands spectacular views of the greater Lijiang area and the white caps of the Himalayas beyond it. I play with my binoculars and see that the old town of Lijiang sits with it's many grey tiled roofs all crumpled together, almost like a nest of sleeping woodlice. In contrast to the new city beside it. After taking a nap, I descend and amble down narrow lanes enjoying the aroma of spices and the general activity within tiny timber fronted structures. I spend the evening at my new home, the Prague café, discussing a trip to a place of legendary trekking that they call Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Gianni checks into my room at the Prague. An Italian film director with lots of useful information about Zhongdian and Tibet. He likes to do crazy things like walking over the 'border' into Tibet and making documentaries about it. He has incredibly detailed maps of the area. It seems that this region is not for amateurs. I also meet with an Australian called Todd. Together, Todd and I shall attempt the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek, and why not begin tomorrow ? Weather's favourable. Lijiang is crammed full with holidaymakers making it a good time to get away. It's agreed. I did have a ticket to see those international celebrities, The Naxi Orchestra, perform tomorrow . Maybe I'll tout it instead and made a profit such is the frenzy of activity inside the concert hall foyer.

4th May. Meet with Todd as agreed. Mark from Canada and his girlfriend Katie from Wales are coming with us. They've been teaching English in South Korea and have made a fair packet. The more the merrier. Certainly it's something you would never attempt alone. Though that theory is tested by some as we shall see. I'm pleased we have pulled together a little group and we walk to the bus station obtain bus tickets to Qiotou. Sold out. We buy them for tomorrow instead and spend the entire day drinking beer and playing cards. A good opportunity for the four of us to get the measure of each other. At 9am this morning we hardly knew each other, now we are a team.

Next ; Tiger Leaping Gorge part 1
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