Tiger Leaping Gorge......ous!!!!
Trip Start Jun 13, 2011
57Trip End Jun 12, 2012
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Where I stayed
Nomads Guesthouse, Shuhe
What I did
So our couple of days there were pretty uneventful compared to what we’d been doing up to that point, but you can get to a point of cultural overload, and it’s nice just to drop the tempo a touch! Barry was actually starting to feel like he was coming down with something, so he spent most of his time chilling at our hostel, The Hump (90Y rm), which was another pretty decent place to stay, with good food and a really nice roof terrace overlooking the city!
I spent a bit of time exploring the shopping district, from the high end department stores (window shopping only, unfortunately!), to the quirky ‘flower and Bird Market’, which was nothing special in terms of what was being sold (the usual tourist tat!), but had lots of interesting characters and you never knew what you were gonna see next
Getting on the train to Lijiang (90Y, 8 hrs) was a great feeling, finally leaving the urban section of our trip behind, although the seating arrangements were pretty peculiar - we’d booked ‘hard seat’ tickets, which actually turned out to be a ¼ share of a lower berth hard sleeper bed - only in China!
We’d actually booked a guesthouse in a little village called Shuhe, just outside of Lijiang (taxi 40Y), which we didn’t know too much about, other than it looked quite a peaceful place, which was exactly what we were needing after our big city frenzy! It turned out to be one of the most enchanting, special places we’d come across in all our travels - such a picturesque, pretty, laid back village! There was a photo opportunity at every turn, with beautiful traditional architecture, little tea houses and cafes dotted along the river, old Chinese men gathering in the pagodas for a chat, complete with little red lanterns hanging everywhere - I could wax lyrical about it all day, but suffice to say we loved it! It helped that Nomads (90Y rm), the guesthouse we were staying at was amazing ,set in a charming building with a little courtyard, but what really made it was the staff - some of the most genuine, caring, helpful people you could ever meet - there was just such a great vibe
After a few days just soaking up the atmosphere, we set off to trek the Tiger Leaping Gorge (entry 50Y). We were a little apprehensive after finding the Colca Canyon in Peru pretty tough, but we really wanted to see a bit more of rural China. The 2 hour bus journey (30Y) there was great (if a little bumpy!), then there was the slight challenge of finding the starting point, but once we were on our way we felt great! Some people do it over just 2 days (although we’ve heard of some that stay for over a week!), but we decided just to take it easy and spend 3 days in the gorge in order to really appreciate it, and I have to say I’m glad we did. The first day was the toughest walking (including the infamous 28 bends, where, when we reached the summit a Golden Eagle flew overhead), but as we were in no rush it was lovely, and we had a great lunch at the Naxi Family Guesthouse. We spent the night in Tea Horse (120Y rm), which had wonderful views and lovely food, and enjoyed a few beers with a lovely Swiss couple.
We set off the next morning feeling relaxed and refreshed, which was good as the paths were definitely a lot more perilous, crumbly and narrow with the obligatory sheer drops
The last section was the walk down to the Yangtzi river at the bottom of the gorge, which was definitely the most treacherous of the lot, although it does have ropes for you to pull yourself up and down, and little homemade stretchers dotted about at various points ‘just in case’ - hmmmmm! The worst bit was the ladders, but again I was so proud of myself for not bottling it - I just kept the mantra ‘hand, hand, foot, foot…’ going in my head and didn’t look down - the things you do..…. but feeling the power of the river up close was awesome, so I suppose it was worth it
In fact, the whole thing would have to go down as a major highlight in our trip so far - the most awe - inspiring scenery, such peace (we had the track to ourselves pretty much the whole time), lovely little guesthouses serving lovely food every couple of hours - I could see how someone could easily spend a week there, and I honestly think 1 night wouldn’t do it justice.
We stopped into the town of Lijiang itself when we got of the bus back, just for a nosy, and although it’s undeniably pretty, it was just so loud, manic and touristy compared to Shuhe, we were glad we’d made the right choice.
So we spent our last couple of nights back at Nomads, enjoying the setting, food and company - the whole week has felt like a total tonic, physically and mentally, and we will always have the fondest of memories of both the place and the people.