Today is Thursday, May 9th. I've said this many times over the semester but these past 5 months have been nothing less than a whirlwind. I am currently overlooking Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan Province, China on Day 2 of a trek over mountains, rocky inclined paths, and waterfall streams.This is is Day 7 of 9 in this province. Andrew and I have gone through quite a bit of travel starting with flying into the Kunming Airport from Shenzhen (after taking the 3 hour MTR from Hong Kong).
We started off our trip by staying at this interesting hostel/bar called The Hump Hostel in the city of Kunming.
We then took a bus to Dali which turned out to be a beautiful ancient town with lots of character and cheap and delicious food (6 yuan/meal!). We took a half-baked hike to one of the small hills in the area and passed through the remnants of what appears to be a poorly-cleaned night/day festival. Here are some handy bins part of the amenities provided to us by the bus service.
We encountered the Great Wall of China! (Just keeeeeding)
After a couple days in Dali, we took a 2 hour train to Lijiang, another beautiful but very touristy ancient town.
Now that I'm in Tiger Leaping Gorge with some time to reflect, I can't quite perceive life the same way anymore-more specifically how much I struggle with Chinese and Chinese culture. I tend to claim that I have intermediate fluency in Putonghua but I get so nervous and flustered when speaking at times. It doesn't help that my listening comprehension is particularly weak in Yunnan where there is a strong local accent. My strength lies in the more standard Beijing/Taiwanese accent.
中虎跳 has been so amazing and gorgeous with its ridiculous 28 bends and hours of trekking. Admittedly, at some points during the trek inclines I really just wanted to buy a donkey ride. It didn't help that local men followed us up the mountain path on their donkeys early on constantly shouting over, "美女, 你要騎馬嗎? 美女, 累嗎?" Yes, I was 非常累, but Andrew let me take many breaks along the way and was incredibly encouraging. In retrospect, I wish we stayed 3 days instead of 2 so we could have finished the trek from one end to the other. Breathtaking beauty.
We got lost a couple of times since the arrows on the ground are no longer very obvious. Once, we ended up in the front yard stable of someone's home while it was pouring rain. Andrew finally decided to put on his waterproof clothing so there we were in the middle of a stable with a new horse as our friend and Andrew stripping down to his boxers to change. With our stroke of luck, the woman who lived there walked up the path to her house and saw us while Andrew was mid-change. Thankfully she was a nice old woman who told us that we were on the wrong path and redirected us. "走錯, 走錯" became more common on our trek than we would have liked. However, there was always something to see and it was always so rewarding because of the kind locals we were surrounded by.
Had to re-energize some time through the hike with a quick power nap!
And, of course, it was unbelievably worthwhile.
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