Reporting from Shangri-La
19.07.2010 - 19.07.2010 20 °C
All the heavy rain over the weekend, and that forecast for the rest of this week, made us decide to leave Lijiang after only 4 days. Didi had won the hearts of the staff at the Garden Inn Hostel, and had learned where they keep the biscuits, so they were a bit sad to see us leave. But, nice staff in a wet courtyard could not make us stay, and Lijiang really is an outdoor town, so we didn't get to see Black Dragon Pool and wander through the park, or make it up to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain but instead we jumped on a bus and have arrived on the top of the world - at Shangri-La.
The bus trip was spectacular - Jie Jie vomited in the aisle about an hour in, just as the windy (that's lots of bends, not breeze) road kicked in, and then slept soundly on Mike for the next 2.5 hours. Didi fell asleep on me before we'd pulled out of the bus station! Then when he woke up about 2 hours in, he wanted to stand, eat, throw food on the floor, drink, do anything but sit quietly. Yes, 4 of us sitting in 2 seats - the bus was packed, so unfortunately no room to spread out. And we all got out of the bus a bit light headed and grumpy.
Didi was impressed with the scenery - I didn't think a 17 month old could really recognise scenery changes, but he was pointing out things all the way! He was especially keen when we were driving right next to a raging river.
The drive was impressive. Words won't do it justice, and I haven't yet seen if we managed to take any decent photos with our poor broken camera. The road drives very near to Tiger Leaping Gorge, and from Lijiang we dropped down into the valley before climbing up again. The mountains were stunning, super steep, and varied from being farmed to forested. It's the Yangtze River, a long way from Shanghai, but surprised me at how big it is even here! Along the way there were water flow gates, harnessing the rivers energy into electricity. We saw waterfalls, and spaces where water must often fall, we drove through rock falls (previously fallen, not falling), there were massive logs at times just bobbing along the river, which gave you some idea of the strength of the current. We were mostly looking down on the river, but got a great feeling of the area. And we agreed, that now is not the right time to get out of the bus to look - there are too many risks for the little people.
Coming out of the valley, we commenced the climb up and up and up. The views continued to be amazing, mainly across farmland and some terraced fields. We saw goats, pigs, horses and yaks. The grasslands are such a rich green. We are now in Shangri-La, 3200m above sea level (approx 1000m higher than Mt Kosciusko) and so far feel fine.
We had a very sensible dinner, chicken (for me and Jie Jie) and beef (for Didi and Mike) with chips and salad. And the kids both ate very well. After being sick on the bus, Jie Jie certainly found her appetite and ate about half the piece of chicken and most of the chips (although avoided the salad of course), and Didi was sitting in his chair saying 'aaahhh' (get me another bit) each time he swallowed. I hope tomorrow we have some proper local cuisine!
We have seen lots of Tibetan prayer flags and monks wandering the streets. Jie Jie and I saw a little bit of dancing in the main square. There is a bike hire place across the road from our hostel, and we're going to check it out tomorrow and see if we can get some bikes with baby seats and go for a bit of a pootle and an explore of Shangri-La.