I took the bus back to Lijiang, met up with Kevin and got my money back for the tyres. It was funny to be back, it was like going home in a sense, as you new the town and some of the people. I met Hutch again, an American guy who had been living in China for a few years and a cyclist. We talked a little about my planned route, then i headed back to the guest house to sleep.
The next day i took the bus to Qiao Tou had fried rice in the same restaurant Margo, Ben and I ate a the first time we were here and studied the map of the walking trail.
A girl came over and offered me a lift to the end of the road and the start of the walking trail. She said she would do it for 30 Yuen and that doing this I would avoid having to pay the 50 Yuen entrance fee. It sounded good but i knew that due to the road works you did not have to pay to walk the trail, you just had to accept responsibility for yourself. I told the girl so and she smiled and walked off, another scam busted.
I shouldered my pack and set off to find the start of the trail, eventually I found a dirt road that looked like it was the way to the trail and asked a local lady if my assumptions were correct. She smiled and pointed in the direction i thought it was, so i thanked her and set off at a gentle pace, admiring the view and enjoying the sun.
I passed the school and soon the road ended and the trail began. It was a good feeling to be walking again and I had the place to myself, i had started late in the day but decided not to rush and enjoy the walk. Walking along in my own world, enjoying the peaceful surroundings, I followed the narrow trail. The route was quite easy and the view of the gorge below made the trip back well worth it.
After an hour or so i stopped for a bite to eat, a couple of local people came by with horses and offered me a ride to the next guest house. I politely declined their offer, and they carried on back down the trail their horses strolling along behind them.
The trail climbed a little and i arrived at the Naxi family guest house, i pondered whether to stay here for the night or to push on for 26 bends and the high point of the trail. I would mean walking the last hour in the dark. I decided there was no rush and i was in a very relaxed state of mind. There was a warm welcome at the Naxi family guest house and i was soon sipping tea and chatting with the owners. I had a lovely hot shower and enjoyed a lovely meal by candle light in the kitchen. The power was out and the men had gone to go and see what the problem was. I finished my meal, thanked the ladies of the house and went back to my room. I was the only guest so had the luxury of a dorm room to myself. I wrote some of my journal and then wrapped the blankets around me and fell into blissful sleep.
The next morning i had some rice for breakfast and set off on my way, the first part of the trail past through a small collection of houses, once on the other side i found myself slowly climbing the bends towards the high point of the trail. I stopped to admire the view where there was a seat carved into the rock face. The first walkers i had seen came past me, said hello and carried on, it was a brief interruption into my otherwise solitary walk. With my tea finished and a couple of handfuls of nuts gone i set off again. I reached the high point of the trail and stopped to take a few pictures. I was glad it was quiet as the person that had set up shop here would have charged me 8 Yen for the privilege according their sign, for my photos otherwise. I ducked under the wooden barrier and walked down the arête to take my photos.
With the hard work done I started to walk down again and soon found myself at the Tea Horse Guest house. I popped in to see if i could get some tea and soon had a fresh cup in front of me and watched the kids as they played in the court yard. I mustered up my best Chinese and asked if this tea was grown here and if i could buy some. Either my Chinese was not right or there was not tea grown here, either way there was not tea to buy. I chuckled to myself at the irony, finished the last of my brew and headed on to the half way guest house. The only reason i was going here was to check out the view from their toilets. Marketed as the best toilet view in the world, i was keen too sample the delights myself.
By three o’clock i had arrived, the place was much bigger than the Naxi family guest house and the staff were busy cleaning and preparing food. I was the first to arrive and wondered what all the activity was about. A big group of Koreans was due to arrive later and they were busy preparing for their arrival. I sat in the sun room with a coke and got the laptop out to write some more of the blog. I raised my head occasionally to admire the view and was glad for the shelter as the wind had picked up and started to shake the windows. I finished my writing and went down to my room to cosy under the blankets and watch a movie.
Just as the movie was ending people started to arrive, I wondered what people thought of my carrying a laptop all the way up here, but kept to myself until the end of the film. Up until now I had been in my own little world and now there were people all around me and the dorm room full. I wandered back to the sun lounge. The wind had gone and everyone was on the deck chatting, i climbed the steps and slowly started to meet new people and swap travelling stories. A group of us sat together for dinner and then we retired to the dorm for sleep.
The next morning nature was calling so it was time to get down to business. The views were truly stunning and i enjoyed the privacy of my own cubical, a lot of Chinese toilets are communal with only a waist high wall for privacy. I took some snaps for the photo album and washed up ready for breakfast. I had my first baba, a kind of flat bread and a lovely pancake filled with banana, local walnut and honey. Yum Yum.
I chatted to one of the guys I had met last night who was going to spend the morning on the sun deck until he decided what to do. We had an interesting chat about life and travel, that gave me things to think about for the rest of the day. I bid farewell to my new friend and set off down the track to the road. I met a Chinese girl on the way down and we walked together, she was heading to Shangri-la so we decided to try and share a lift back to the main road to get the bus north.
We arrived at Tina’s Hostel, where Margo, Ben and I had stopped before, it was the end of my little adventure and time to get back on the bike. After much waiting we got a mini van to the main road for a good price and then caught the bus back to Lijiang. We arrived early evening and i could not remember exactly which bus to get back to the hostel, so we walked asking directions every so often. Eventually we passed the main post office and I was able to remember the way from there. We went to my favourite little restaurant and i was greeted by smiles from the lady that run the place and Carole who happened to be there too. I checked back into the Hostel and started to think about cycling again.
I had planned to spend another day getting a few jobs, like my tax return done and then set off. With jobs done, a day later i was ready to set off. I woke up to a blanket of snow all around me and pondered what to do. I got the guys in the hostel to call the bus station to see how the road was. Closed, and would be for two days a least. I could still go though? Having never cycling in the snow and the lack of a bus to pick me up if it went wrong, i opted to stay another two days and wait for the weather to improve. I got some mountain bike tyres for the bike and two days later set off for my first ride in the snow. Shangri-la had been a lovely home, but it was high time to move on.
See more photos here