River Deep – Mountain High

I’d never heard of Lijiang until I arrived but it is a small town in southwest Yunnan province. It retains a lot of the old wood and water channel features of historical towns and for this it benefits from 8 million tourists a year!

Eugene was gracious enough to cash in some of his hotel points so that we could stay at the Pullman resort on the edge of town and take a few days holiday-from-the-holiday and recharge our batteries before the next bout of trekking.

A couple of hours bus ride away from Lijiang is ‘Tiger Leaping Gorge’ a flanked by 6000m snow peaked mountains which drop dramatically into a river gorge of white-water rapids which involves a two day trek to complete.

Most of the climb is manageable except for the ’28 bends’ where switchback paths ascend to a stunning panorama. I got stuck in a train of donkeys and suffice to say donkeys have a very active digestion system which you don’t want to be stuck near!

Our rest for the night was in the Halfway Guesthouse where we could take in the panoramic vistas over the mountains as the sun went down.

For the second day we headed down to rapids themselves which was a steep 400m descent, some of it down rickety ladders to the roaring waters below with nothing but flimsy wire barriers between the swell and the rocks. Health and safety has a different meaning in China.

Along the same lines our trip back to the airport posed some unexpected problems due to a landslide on the one and only road. We had to off load all our bags and haul them over the boulders to another waiting bus – all par for the course apparently!


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