Day 6: Yak Meadows, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and Blue Moon Valley (July 30th)
Waking up just before 7am I took the time to finish yesterday’s writing and catch up with my virtual world. I also squeezed in a short morning conversation through messenger with my partner. My back was hurting a lot and I was feeling a bit worried about how hiking around would feel today. Fortunately the pain disappeared for the most part not long into the day.
Around 8am, Talaal, Yasmeen and I went looking for a restaurant nearby with western food since Talaal was concerned Yasmeen wasn’t eating enough. After searching around for a while and not being able to find it we went back to the inn and had breakfast there. During breakfast Adam, Talaal and I got into a short debate that eventually just ended up we realized the time and need to get ready quickly to meet our driver.
Running a bit behind we got on the road with our driver for a full day outside of the city. Driving through “new Lijiang” is a quick reminder that we’re still in 2018. It’s much more modern than the “Old City”. In both cases though the city seems much cleaner than Kunming which I suspect is related at least in part to the fact that it is a popular tourist destination. The most interesting sight I saw while driving through new Lijiang though was a very large statue of Mao. I tried to take a photo, but we passed by too quickly.
The ride to there had us driving uphill and it quite rainy and cloudy for much of it. Unfortunately the cable car to the top (4506m) where you can see the Yulong Glacier was sold out for today. I’m telling myself that it was perhaps a blessing though despite supposedly having the most spectacular view I’m unsure we would have seen much more in this weather. We opted to take the middle cable car which took us up to 3600m and allowed us to see a temple at this point and explore Yak Meadows. The view on the way up was shrouded in fog and mist for most of the ride, but still got my heart racing at times. My niece Yasmeen captured a video of the ride on my GoPro which I think will be cool to watch later.
With the cable cars only accommodating 2 people and there being 5 of us I ended up riding up with a friendly young German guy I met in line named Timo. We each shared a bit about why we’re in China and some of the things we were interested in doing while we are here. He explained that he came for his friend’s wedding and that it was a pretty interesting cultural experience and very different from a German wedding. We also talked a bit about Canada and Germany as we rode the cable car up to the Yak Meadows. He shared that despite being German he sometimes felt like a foreigner in Munich were he is living now as they in his opinion hold on to strongly to the Bavarian traditions. All of the things we talked about though the most significant was Tiger Leaping Gorge. Like myself he was keen to hike it and in fact was planning to do so today until hearing from a local that it was just closed because of mudslide that killed two people. My heart sank. I want so badly to hike this trail, but everything seems to be telling me it’s not going to happen. Even when hearing this news I thought to myself that I still want to hike this trail. Maybe that’s crazy, but it just seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Once at the top we took some time to enjoy the view and walk the boardwalk to the temple and lookout. It was cool so see some of Yaks quite close up and to walk into the small temple which I can only imagine must be quite old. It was unfortunately quite wet the whole time though. After exploring for a while we took the cable car down, but this time I rode with Adam and he filmed a time lapsed video with the Go Pro and I took a few photos with my phone. The sky was much clearer which gave a much better view and at least for me seemed to make it less scary. When the cable car ride finished we took some time to explore another quite beautiful area nearby called Blue Moon Valley. There were some pretty waterfalls and very cool blue water. Just as we were leaving this area we ran into Timo again. I told him that I had emailed a guesthouse at TLG and they said the high trail was quite safe for hiking, but that to enter we would need to do so in the evening after the gate staff had left. Reading this I had pretty mixed feelings. If the guesthouse was being honest then it would be mean I could actually do the hike, but the fact that he said we would need to enter after the staff left obviously seemed questionable. Timo seemed interesting in giving the hike a try so I gave him my email in the chance that we might go together. From here we parted ways as we met with our driver again and made our way back to the inn to rest for a bit.
It was around 6pm while resting at the inn that had them check to see about Tiger Leaping Gorge. They confirmed that two people had died in a mudslide and that it would be closed for a week. I was and am absolutely gutted. We talked about some alternative plans which include possibly cycling a bit, but nothing really compares. Shortly after getting the news we all went out for dinner. I think most of the family was feeling a bit hangry and frustrated so thi gs were a bit tense. We went to one place, but it wasn’t a good fit so we ended up at N’s bar again for western food. Even having western food there weren’t many options so I ended up with the same food as the day before. Food in China has unsurprisingly been pretty disappointing for me. While eating I got an email from Timo asking about TLG and I broke the disappointing news to him that we wouldn’t be going.
After dinner we made our way back to the inn. Lijiang really seemed to come alive at night and while being beautiful during the day was beautiful in a different way at night. We spent the remainder of our night just relaxing before heading to bed.