Dali to Shangri-la, it's not as fictitious as it sounds...
22.07.2011 - 30.07.2011
Well I left you in Dali after a night in the nunnery. Was cool. and I'm sure you're all like "oh god, here she goes on another of her rants". But anyhow, suffer at your own risk.
The last couple of nights in Dali were average. Said goodbye to Nat again an on the final night went to the "Bad Monkey" Bar in the old town, smoked shisha with one of the (cute) Israeli bar tenders for a few hours (get the subtle feeling it wasn't straight coals either) which was cool. I swore almost EVERY old lady in that town came unto me and said "smoke the ganja?" lol. Got the bus from Dali to Lijiang. That was a seriously uneventful four or five hours in a bus with stuff all suspension on what was an off road trek through some stunning scenery.
Now I got to Lijiang and I don't know if you will recall but the last time I was there it was bucketing rain and thundr the day I got there. Well it was at it again- I get the subtle feeling that Lijiang and I just aren't supposed to be! oh well will save me a lot of money in the long run I suppose. :P anyhow. Bucketing rain and a 20 odd kg backpack on smooth, slippery cobble stones in hiking boots is one hell of a ride. slipped and slid my way through the old town to Mama Naxi's Guest House (which mother dearest later informed me sounded alot like a brothel). Bu brothel I assure you not! The Naxi woman that runns the hostel is seriously sweet always referring to herself in the third person as "Mama". Lol. Anyhow, spent the night in a dorm there with, yep you guessed it, more absolutely gorgeous Israelis (Isware I'm not biased, they just happen to be that way, not my fault).
Following day I thought hey what the hell let's get a bus out to some mountain and check it out. So got on the bus to Jianchuan, not realising that it would take me a whole 3hrs to bloody get there, arriving there at 3:30pm and the last bus to Lijiang was at 3pm bugger.... And to be even more spiffie the road to the mountain I had in mind had been cut off due to landslides. Yayyyyyy.... Oh well, didn't really fancy climbing another mountain, way too unfit for it. So got a mini bus out to the quaint little town of Shaxi (沙溪) which happened to be one of the last functional villages on the old Tea Horse Road that ran from India to Southern Yunnan via Tibet. It was very beautiful there and could have easily wholes away a couple of days there. I especially think Ma and Mandi would have loved it. Check out the pictures as to why. evening stroll by the bubbling river of snow melt and no one and nothing but the mountains and birds as companions. Very relaxing. Lovely place. I spent the night there in one of the local homes. I stayed with a family of 4 in one of those cool mudbrick courtyard homes. With corn and cabbage growing in the centre courtyard and chickens strutting around the ground floor.
The following day I returned to Lijiang and shopped a bit and essentially did bugger all, met up with Graham that night, was nice to see a familiar face. He still seems remotely shocked when I understand what he is saying in Chinese and comment back in English. Classic the look on his face. following day went and got a bus to Shangri-la (香格里拉).
Now I kid you not. Shangri-la is in fact a real place (however the name from the story was fact before the city of Zhongdian changed it's name to that of the book). So the bus here was quite possibly sooooooo freaking uncomfortable I could literally feel nothing fron the waist down after about 10mins in that seat (which I puld be in for another 4hrs and 50mins). However the absolutely stunning scenery absolutely made up for that. as I said in a text to Ma;
I doubt the Dandes will forever be a let down from this day forth. Drivin thru a valley where the sky is but a sliver of a tantalising tease, held back by the greedy hands of omniscient mountains.
Ok so yeh you can imagine. Yeh? She replied in true motherly style the following;
You're a dag. Send that mess to Mandi and Chris
now am I really that much of a dag? Come on if you were where I was you too would be inspired to write such poetic nonsense. anyway. Arrived at Shangri-la got to hostel and all was sweet really. slept and it poured all night and most of today. Got out for a few hours and climbed up a little hill to a temple where you could see the whole of Shangri-la. The 100 Chickens Temple in English. The entire mountain was shrouded in the waving prayer flags that was all you could hear at the top- the sound of the wind through the 5,000 odd meter mountains and the prayer flags flapping frantically as the wind from the Tibetian highlands blew in in all their absolutely freezing ferocity. It was so beautiful and peaceful up there I could have spent much longer up there just meditating and reflecting in the small temple of the Buddhist Yellow Hat Sect of Tibet. However one peep outsidethe window and my fears were confirmed. A massive curtain of rain heading my way. At first I thought it was the light playing tricks however when I figured out that the mountains behind were entirely hidden behind massive black thunderheads with lightening preceding them and a thick curtain of rain I knew it was time to hitai it out of ther before I was stuck on the top of the mountain in a massive high altitude storm.
Walking back down the mountain I had time to think, something I've been enclined to do a lot of recently. Religion such as Buddhism seems to be so relaxing and peaceful, it affects not only cultures and lives bug everyone and everything it comes into contact with. I like the idea of it, but fear that it may be a realisation possibly grasped in years to come.
Oh an also. Looks like I'll be heading straight to Chengdu tomorrow as the whole of W.Sichuan and Yunnan is still closed to foreigners. It would appear they don't want us gettin too close to Tibet at the current moment in time which is most annoying. Looks like this is as close to Tibetian culture as I'm going to get for a while yet. Oh well. Shall buzz you again from Chengdu I suppose. Until then, stay safe, be good and don't do anything I wouldn't do
Oh and P.S Happy Birhday to Dad and Di, you old buggers :P xx
PPS, also seems that the internet speed here is way too slow for uploading pictures, so I shall let you know when I have added them