Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tiger Leaping Gorge

I'm not quite sure to say about Tiger Leaping Gorge. So much has been said and so much of it bullshit. Despite the carnage that tourism, wealth and ohh too many roads have wreaked on the landscape it is still a pleasant stroll, a nice way to spend a down day. Several years ago Simon Winchester described it in a blog here, making the tame path sound like a scramble up and around the gates of Mordor. But he also predicted what has come to pass:

"The pleasure that one took particularly in Tiger Leaping Gorge, by virtue of its peace, its isolation and its beauty will now soon have gone forever. By tarmac and pollution and crowding, it will have been utterly and comprehensively ruined. The village of Walnut Grove will, in a way, have lost its soul. Somewhere special will have become merely commonplace, and worse."

Tiger Leaping Gorge is now merely commonplace. And soon they will probably drown some more in another lake and kill the rumble of the river. Anyway our day out...

The path was scraggled with dead and dying worms. We tried to hypothesise what their story was, were they shat out by all the horses? No I think they were too big. Were they enticed onto the track by the piles of dung in the rain then stood on, or then stranded when the track quickly dries? Whoknows. The strange things you think about when you are walking.

Apart from the amazing rock walls of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain rising across the gorge and the continuous rumbling and occasional sighting of the whitewater of the Yangtze (both which you soon forget about) the track is highlighted by the continual advertising for guesthouses. The Naxi family guesthouse is first, red paint on rocks. There are Nashi pears at the Naxi house. The track steepens after here shortly, the infamous “28 bends”, a good hill for an old man with a stick carrying a basket of potatoes. Tea Horse Trading Inn was next, the yellow brand on the rocks. We stopped here for a relaxing lunch, what a view!!

Halfway House (someone has a sense of humour) was probably the most obtrusive of the lot. Their graffitti was constant. We rebelled by not even sticking our heads in for a beer, but stopped for a photo.

The track now followed a water-race around a steep face, akin to the lower Yubeng but less spectacular, before rolling down to the road at Tina's guesthouse. Thats it? The famous Tiger Leaping Gorge trek is a pleasant romantic stroll and would have its purpose as a pub crawl.

Before wandering the 40minutes back down the road to (the lovely) Seans Guesthouse in Walnut Garden, we stopped at the Bridge Cafe for an orange juice.

Sitting in the cafe reading a book on the minorities of the Yunnan, we saw many interesting photos of the places we have been and discovered the proper names for a couple of objects, the fuzzy purple flower and the crazy easels and chairs for the gods. Any guesses?

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