To Tibets doorstep - a random excursion
Trip Start Sep 12, 2008
13Trip End Nov 10, 2008
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When we got off the bus at 9.30 the next morning, their driver was waiting, and it turned out that rather than staying in Shangrila as I was expecting, they were actually travelling another 5 hours up the road towards the mountains. I really wasnt n the mood for getting into another car and driving for the day, but it turned out to be well worth it.
We stopped at a few places on our drive, which was all in all, a drive through the mountains. I had my first apple in a few months fresh off a tree from someones orchard, we looked at the golden sand river and hills and a pottery place and it was a reasonably leisurely drive. We got higher and higher and higher and higher, then would descend down to a tiny town, only to go up up up again. The views were fantastic though, and the chinese like to take photos, so we stopped a lot!!
We eventually arrived at Feilaisi, the town before the hour drive to the Meili national park, at 8.30pm. I had been in transit 24 hours and was ready to crash. We checked into a lovely hotel with plush duvets and i had my first bath since I left home. My goodness, it was heavenly. I was exhausted, and really did need to sleep (I try not to sleep too much during the day trips cause it will ruin my night time sleep -- shh!) but I was not weasting this opportunity.. It was wonderful.
We got up at 8.30am for a horse riding trip, had some breakfast, and headed towards the base of Meili. We got perhaps 10 minutes down the road when we were stopped for road works. These road works were cliff slip workers, there were people way way way up o this cliff, chipping away at rocks and boulders, sending them flying down to the road below. Not a pleasant or very safe job I should think!! But interesting to watch. Turned out I was interesting to watch aswell, as about 8 chinese photographers took to snapping shots of me (you say yes to one, you start a craze!) while we were waiting. It seems a 20 minute wait for road works is the average, once the first car is stopped, there is a significantly long line of cars waiting untill the road is eventually filled or cleared, or whatever, and deemed safe to cross!
We arrived at the park as the sun was warming up, and I decided being as we were going to be riding for 4 hours, that I would leave my jersey in the car. Sunny informed me at about this point that I should take it, as it could get cold at night. This lead me to the assumption we were staying the night out there....so i packed a couple of bits and off we went (no worries about the surprise overnighter!!). The horses turned out to be mules, and the four hour trip turned out to be a gruelling uphill trek which would have been a mission for a human, let alone a poor donkey having to lug the human!!
The view from the top was awesome. A chain of snow capped mountains in the sun..just amazing. We wandered down the hill and found a hostel, attempted exploring, but this involved either two hill climbs (one in an exploring direction, and one home again, or one hill climb (flagging the exploring and heading home before sundown) between the chinese being not so keen on major exhaustion and me being not so keen on trying to make it back up the hill on a dirt track in the dark, we decided to flag it and explore the next day.
We spent the next day going out the the magical/mysterious/sacred waterfalls, and these were just stunning
We muled back to the 'super store' (a tiny shed with sugary drinks and instant noodles for sale) where Sunny and co debated buying a piglet or a chicken (live) and brewing it up back at our hostel before getting mules back over the hill. By this stage it was about 3pm, and I really didnt think that a live pig was going to become a meal in less than 2 hours. They eventually decided the same thing, and we were on the mules heading back over the hill by 4. We were escorted by some women, who in my humble opinion were super women. This hill was ridiculously steep, and the only reason they really stopped was when the donkeys stopped, and even then, they stood for less than a minute before urging the donkeys to continue
Excrutiatingly exhausted, I flopped into the minivan and dozed the 2 hour trip back to Feilaisi. I was so pleased when I saw the hotel we had stayed in, thinking I was going to flag dinner all together, do another bath and bed and sleep like a baby after whisky. Wasnt so pleased when the driver continued PAST our hotel, drove another 20 or 30 minutes through nasty land slide road works in the dark, at speed, and stopped somewhere for dinner. I just wanted to go to bed.. I was cold and could hardly think, and really did not want to try be social.. Food and beer warmed me though, and when dinner was over, I felt like the ten minute trip to another hotel was going to be a breeze.
Turned out we were to drive 3 hours (we finished dinner around 11-11.30?) to a tiny village we had passed through on the way there, and stay there the night. Funny thing was though, that at 2am, no one was awake, no guesthouses were open, and it was by pure good luck that a guesthouse owner came down for a cigarette and let us in. It was 3 by the time we got into bed, and I was told as I was dozing off that we were to rise at 6 to drive back to Shangrila, as the chinese folk wanted to get to Lijang and make the most of their one day there... ay yay yay. I slpet the whole way, and arrived back in Shangrila fresh and ready to find somewhere to stay (against the chinese folk's suggestions..) They were worried about leaving me by myself bless their cotton socks, but we said our fairwells at the train station, they went to Lijang, and I jumped on a bus towards Shangrila old town.