One of the fantastic things about living in China is the opportunity to explore and experience the different provinces and cities and all which make up the rich tapestry of China. Last week I took a short holiday to Yunnan Province, the place which provided my first taste of China. It may sound surprising but sometimes life in China can become a bit routine and travelling can help to remind you what an epically beautiful and fascinating country we live, intern in or are planning to come to!
After a short flight to Lijiang, a city, which was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1997 but has now grown to one of China’s top domestic tourism hubs and an example of how the old way or life (is albeit a little artificially) be preserved, I was already feeling relaxed and the high altitude, blue skies and clean air was wonderful! Lijiang itself is worth a visit and most people either love or hate it. Some will say it’s touristy and tacky while others see it as a relaxing place to chill out, experience local Naxi culture and acclimatize before tackling Tiger Leaping Gorge. This was where I was heading.
The next day, around 2 hours away from Lijiang, we travelled to the start of the Tiger Leaping Gorge trail and as you will see from my pictures – some pretty spectacular scenery. On the way out of Lijiang I noticed the dirt and bumpy road I took two years ago was now a glistening newly paved road – I was a little worried given the Gorge would be packed with tourists but thankfully the area remains reasonably quiet and serene.
There are two routes through the gorge – the high trail; a two day hike, a couple of awesome villages and hostels in between and the low road trail; a windy, scary road through the gorge and mostly full of day tripping Chinese tourists. I think you know which one I chose!
The hike itself, with 28 bends, waterfall crossings, sheer drops, tough climbs and temperatures pushing 30c was not easy! The first day was almost entirely uphill with a brief lunch before finally reaching the Half Way Guest House (home for the night) good food, a beer and sunset over Yulong Mountain greeted us so all in all it was pretty worthwhile.
If the first day was special the second day was mind-blowing, the scenery gets even better and we crossed waterfalls before hiking down for lunch and then all the way to the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge stone with a shaky ladder to climb on the side of the cliff and rapids below it has to be a time where health and safety is a little bit out the window but adrenaline kicks in!
The gorge (Hǔtiào Xiá), one of the deepest in the world, measures 16km long and is a giddy 3900m from the waters of Jinsha River (Jīnshā Jiāng) to the snow-capped mountaintops of Hābā Shān (Haba Mountain) to the west and Yùlóng Xuěshān to the east. (Lonely Planet, 2014) With all the development in China sometimes it’s nice to see that even the skyscapers now going up all over Chengdu are no match for this natural wonder.
Now back at work, it all seems a little like a dream and is well in truly at the top of my list of things you can’t miss in China and it’s only 1 hour by plane from Chengdu!
Apply now for an internship and experience other parts of China that are only a short flight away!