Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The ‘Jang’ is slang for Lijiang

So, after mapping out the route from Chengdu to Lijiang I decided that it would be a good idea to fly rather than take trains and buses as I would save a good deal of time. Plus the flight was not too expensive, so I opted for that and Sarah, Dennis and Chantal came along too. I had arranged to stay at ‘mama Naxi’ in Lijiang, which once again is the Lonely Planet’s “our pick.” I had also arranged for the hostel to come and pick us up from the airport. Instead of picking us up however, the hostel just came and picked up some other random foreigners and left us stranded! We called the hostel and they sent a van back and said it would be 10 mins… 1 hour later the van finally came! The whole ordeal was made more frustrating due the fact that the airport was closing and they needed us to leave (the security were giving us a hard time). When we got to the hostel it was quite late and the girl was very rude to us and just threw us all into a room and left. She didn’t even apologise about the pick up and when we asked about it she didn’t seem to really think it was a big deal. The room she threw us in was horrible too, plus the shared bathrooms were some of the worst I’d ever seen! We did manage to get some sleep however and the next day we got up and immediately looked round for another hostel. We found a decent one, so we went back to mama’s and checked our arses out of there. They did over charge me a little too and they were neither nice nor helpful. So if you are thinking of heading to this hostel when you’re in Lijiang… DON’T!!!
The old town of Lijiang is a very pretty place! It’s really hard to describe it, but I was very impressed! It is however, full of tourists and they once again they are the kind that love to stare and stick cameras in your face. But if you can ignore them you can have a really pleasant time in the town. Some of what is old though has been restored and painted to be pretty
for all the visitors, so it does lack a little authenticity.
The next day a bunch of us got up really early and got into a taxi and headed to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. I have been really excited about hiking the gorge, as I hear that it is really spectacular and that day I was definitely full of beans! There were 6 of us walking together (Sarah, Dennis, Chantal, Wenna and Lee). We began the hike at about 11:00 am and we headed up towards our first guesthouse.
The weather was looking a little bad when we started, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. We all started at pretty similar pace, which changed as soon as we started to climb a little, and people started to throw in some breaks here and there. Right from the start the view was amazing! It is really hard to explain, but the gorge is massive! The huge stone peaks of mountains tower over you and make you feel really small! We were hiking up the side of the gorge with the smaller mountains so it was a little easier, though the climb up was still a little difficult in parts. We ended up stoping about halfway across the track and staying at a guesthouse that had some really cool views. It was also a very cheap place to stay and it appeared that we were the only ones staying there too. The night got a little boring after a while, but we filled the time playing cards and some other random games.
The next day we took off at about 10:30, which we thought was a little late because there was meant to still be about 4 hours hiking to go and we still needed to find our way back to Lijiang. The weather was also very similar to the day before, but it still never really rained on us, which was nice. The hike ended up only being about 2.5 hours (not 4) and we were ready to head home by 1. It turns out however that the road that was meant to take us back had been shut due to a large rock that had fallen onto it during their attempt to widen the road. So we ended up having to take a taxi 17km in the other direction. This taxi took us to a place where we could get a ferry across the river, but finding this ferry was another matter! We walked around for about an hour looking for where to get onto this ferry. We could see the boat!!! But, we couldn’t see where we were supposed to hop on it! Eventually we waited on a rock where the ferry came over, picked us up, and ripped us off! It was one of those ‘What are you going to do scenarios’ where there was no other option but to take the ferry (for 30 secs) across the river.
Once we were across the river we had to hike up to a guesthouse, where we waited for a bout an hour for a bus to come and get us. The bus too was a little bit expensive, but once again it was our only option! We ended up getting back to Lijiang 7 hours after we finished the trek, which was longer than the whole trek put together!

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