The Cangshan Challenge
Trip Start Nov 05, 2008
27Trip End Jun 23, 2009
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Where I stayed
Jade Emu Hostel
Take the chair lift up? I don't think so. The steeply inclined hike to the foot of Cangshan took about 90 minutes and I was soaked in sweat in no time
Towards the end of the walkway, I noticed a sign that pointed upwards towards the "Grand Canyon." Usually, it only takes a couple words to spark my curiosity and this was no exception. The sign was extremely vague and didn't say how far away this mysterious "Grand Canyon" was. It was approaching 4pm and I thought about it getting dark in a couple hours, but decided to take a chance and attempt to find this place. The path was fairly steep and narrow, covered with draping trees and seemed to lead no where in particular. It was one of those situations where I really wanted to know how far off the walkway this "Grand Canyon" was, but the further I went, the greater chance of walking back in the dark
Now for another decision: Take the overly priced cable car and call it a day or descend to the bottom for free? Take a wild guess which one I did. The rough, unmarked trail to the bottom was much longer than I thought it would be. I followed a creek, crossed it several times and used my best judgment to get to the bottom. It took about 2 more hours to descend and I still had to get back to the hostel. It was the kind of workout I needed and finally felt satisfied. It was a successful day because I was physically exhausted by dinner time and made it to the hostel just before dark.
The Jade Emu Hostel was hands-down the nicest hostel of my whole trip. I should probably take a break from this blog entry, go on hostelworld.com right now and write a rave review. The rooms were cheap, comfortable, secure, spacious, and immaculate. The owner and workers were friendly, informative, fun and truly cared about providing exceptional hospitality. Dave, an Australian guy, was the owner and excellent pool player. About six of us played a pool tournament for small money and Dave cleaned both rounds. As a general Jade Emu rule, if you beat Dave in a one-on-one match in pool, you get one night of free accommodation. Of course I took up the challenge and was well on my way towards winning when I pocketed the 8-ball and lost. At least I had him sweating for a while and I did end up beating him a couple times.
I struggled walking around touristy Old Town Dali the next day and was relieved to find a small German bakery serving delicious deli-style sandwiches including a chicken, brie and artichoke panini which I devoured with pleasure. Besides the old town style buildings and streets, there wasn't much else to do in Dali, so I decided to move on further north in Yunnan where tigers leap across gorges...
Next Stop: The Tiger Leaping Gorge