Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Litang to Doacheng and Yading!

Right now I feel like a million dollars in fact a billion dollars! I'm in Shangri-la and have been having the most wonderful couple of days. My last blog I spoke of the loneliness and like a I predicted, in no time i would meet some super humans, I did. I met a lovely lady traveller coincidently heading in the same direction as me. We decided we would journey to a national park called Yading together and explore all that is to be discovered so we set off in a mini van with a very energetic Tibetan driver and a windy road ahead (every road in the mountains seems to be windy and slightly bumpy). We arrived in Daocheng to a very cosy little hostel with a gorgeous garden...the garden was filled with flowers, some vegetables and at least 15 huge canabis plants towering way above my head. The lady working there spoke immaculate english and we were able to acquire all the necessary information about our journey to the national park....Rubber boots, poncho,warm clothes, good lungs, lots of enthusiasm and a great sense of adventure! So i spent some money (too much i'm told) on a fancy rain jacket, strange but pretty rain boots(pretty cause they had upsidedown hearts on them...made for a lady like I) and some thick socks. We set off at 8 and the ride there was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Misty blankets covering the hills, smoking steam rising from the mountains, small showers inbetween blue skies which kept us slight optimistic about the weather and also anxious about the inevitable rain and what that would mean for seeing the snowy mountains we so eagerly awaited.

After 2 hours our 3 hour journey came to an abrubt stop outside a slightly official looking building...our driver went out and chatted with his fellow Tibetan driver comrades, returned and told us to get out with our bags...(his english was limited) so without choice we got out with our bags wondering if this was Yading??? Yading??? Yes? No? Finally an English speaker explained that the driver could go no further and that as of today tourists entering Yading have to take an "official" bus which cost 120 yuan (which is madness cause there was only an hour left) So having no choice and slight frustration at having to pay for the bus and the entrance fee we set off once again, now with an English speaking super energetic Tibetan man who took us under his wing. He decided we would sleep at the same hostel (which he luckily organised) and that we would walk together too...which was great! So the 7 of us (3 chinese, 1 south korean, 1 israeli, 1 tibetan and myself) set of up the mountain to see one of the sacred snowy mountains and pearl lake. We were about 3900 meters above sea level and heading up to 4200. It was a bit of a struggle with the altitude working against us and it was worth it. the air was fresh, the scenery spectacular and we were moving, i was moving. On the road i've felt a little lazy at times and the need for physical activity has been sought when possible...stairs or escalator? stairs! The array of scents was also so refreshing and I felt so content with life and her presents. My new friend Noa from Litang is a Koala and koala as you may know take there time but she was so good and despite not feeling up for the walk completed it succesfully and when we sat at pearl lake (which was green, emerald green and very very tranquilo with the cloud covered mountain in front of us) we all felt utterly content and blissful. Many many photos were taken and many many poses were done, created and done again...the most popular being the jump in the air and hope the photographer captures the moment. We hung up there because we were happy and also with the hope that the mountain would clear and we could see her majesty in all her glory! And with all our hopes and some prayers she cleared and she blessed us with her naked presence. She was pretty amazing!!! the contrast with the green lake and the pine trees surrounding it with the rock snow covered mountain towering in the back and reflecting in the water was a sight indeed! once the cloud covered again we decended and food became the next mission (as it often is).

We stayed at a Tibetan run hostel and ate a most delicious dinner cooked and eaten in their kitchen. Lots of delicious spice, veges and Yak! My introduction to yak had started and continues to sneak into my list of consumptions.

The next day we arose before dawn ate a hearty local breakfast of butter tea, rice porridge, runny fried eggs, freshly baked round barley bread and a porridge that took me back to my child hood (it tasted like pro-nutro). Then we set off for the big climb. we were to walk 4km, take an electric car for 8km. walk for 8km (uphill the whole time) see two more beautiful lakes, take photos, walk back 8km, take the electric car for 8km, walk back 4km and then take the bus back to Daocheng....Yes! Ok! No problem! How many hours? 5 hours...No problem! Ok! Lets go! And off we went. My Koala friend was not up for it so she took her time and decided she would not go the whole way...the sky was filled with grey weeping clouds and after the efforts of the previous day our bodies were a bit more tried and tested. My enthusiasm was tenfold and i was ready to run up the mountain if possible. We walked up the 4km in 45 mins no problem. we took the electric car which was slightly chilly and wet but we got where we needed to be to start walking. We walked on the wooden platform and all was copasetic. we started walking on the grass towards the mountain and discovered that it was grass yes, but it was marshland and it was getting wetter and wetter. I felt happy to get out my pretty rain boots...I was the only one the rest were wearing shoes similar to converse!!! material and non weather resistant! As we started towards the trees away from the marshes the mud became apparent. A group of tibetan cowboys then came over and offered us to take some horses for the small fee of 300 yuan. Of course we refused and they insisted that it would be a long and tedious walk because the paths were filled with mud and horse dropping, there were streams and small rivers, there were steep passes and mere mortals would not be capable of doing it....we still refused and laughed at their dramatic speech and their good salesmanship...we were not going to fall for it...we were set to trek up the mountain come what may!

And up I went ahead cause i could with my superrain boots. Then i'd wait for the others to catch up and so the journey went. the mud was at times so intense and gluggy. the horse droppings were everywhere both a hindrance and a good indicator of which way for me to go and the others to avoid and seek alternative routes through the trees to limit the disaster to their shoes. After 3 hours we reached a mountain. it was raining fairly consistantly and the lakes were still not apparent. My patience was being tested as i now had to wait much longer periods of time for the rest of the troupe to catch up and was groing anxious about the journey down and back to doacheng in the light hours of the day. I walked for a further half an hour steadily up and then my instinct said turn round go back...the lakes would just be a cherry on top, the journey was the most important. And so I did...i simply started walking back. I came accross the troup who were struggling but determined to go the 9 yards. So i continued back and they continued up. I walked in the mud, the poo, the water much more carelessly than the way up. I almost feel many times and hunger started creeping up on me. I made it back to the bus stop, wet, muddy, hungry but still happy for the journey i'd had so far. still optimistic and filled with the joy of being in nature and moving. So i waited for the bus...and waited...and waited...and waited...(it rained and the chilled wind blew)...and i waited. And my patience once again was tested. My thoughts wandered along the paths of, 'what kind of service is this...i paid money and expect that a bus should come....and how dare they demand so much money and not deliver the goods...this wouldn't happen in europe or Oz...thee people know nothing of service...and started to deteriorate to, fucking hurry up and get here!!! after 50 minutes finally an electric car came filled with chinese tourists and cameras! I was so relieved and my former slanders were forgotten. So i enthusiastically sat in the car and indicated that we should go...and the driver indicated that we had to wait for the tourists to return from taking photos. so I waited more...half an hour later i was in tears and swearing to no one. I kicked the benches and swore the families of the drivers. I cursed and spluttered and shouted to the deaf heavens...the drivers sat stared at me with blank expressions and I continued to insist that we should go NOW!!! NOW!!!! NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! eventually another bus came and he took me back face teary, heart and soul so consumed with Anger and frustration and disdain for all who crossed my path. One of the men in the car tried to practise his english with me and i told him not to talk to me or i'd cry! he stopped! once i got to the bus stop I started running, running down the hill as fast as i could, running like a crazy woman...i don't run usually, and yet running seemed like the most natural thing to do. i stomped in the mud, the shit, the puddles and just ran ran ran...when i reached the entrance i round Noa the koala, ate 8 big steamed buns and we set off for Daocheng.

My head was throbbing and the adrenalin pumping through my body was immense. I had not in recent times felt so ANGRY!!! And it was magnificent...FEELING!Feeling is amazing!

And now i must go and eat breakfast....Shangri la will be the next installment!

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