Saturday, 24 October 2009
After more than a year of trying to adapt to hot and humid climates, it was a pleasure being able to breathe again at the more comfortable altitudes of SW China. However, the continued move to the NW has brought with it some high altitudes and cold weather (especially with the approach of winter). The route from Dali to Lijiang was fairly uneventful (of course there were some hills!). Like Dali, Lijiang also has an ancient city, dominated by the wooden tile-roofed buildings in the style of the local Naxi people. We are living in the Old City with its cobbled alleys and gushing streams - and of course the local tourists are all over the place again! For a couple of days Leana and I were away from Lijiang, travelling North by bus to the high altitude town of Zhongdian (a.k.a. Shangri-La). That town also has an old part, and is also rather touristy (at that altitude even the cheap youth hostel where we stayed had electric blankets on the beds). I'd taken my bike with on the bus, and spent 2 days cycling back to Lijiang while Leana spent that time hiking in the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge. Zhongdian and the high-altitude rolling plains (3400m) made for rather cool and O2-shy cycling, but the area has a pleasantly strong Tibetan flavour. My cycling route back to Lijiang took me down past the mouth of the Yangzi River Gorge (Tiger Leaping Gorge), as well as the foothills of Jade Dragon Mountain (Mt Satseto 5500m). Tomorrow we plan to cycle NE from here, towards the mystical Lugu Lake on the border with Sichuan Province. Daily distances I've cycled since Dali have been: Songgui 99 km; Lijiang 74 km; Zhongdian (by bus); Qiaotou 106 km; and return to Lijiang 83 km. Total distance cycled on this journey so far is 48 439 km.