You wish you were here…Shanghai, Fall 2009
…(continued from last post)
So, the 12-hour bus from Kunming to Shangri-la was…well, interesting to say the very least. First of all, we were crammed in bunk beds on this sleeper bus. Second, there were no toilets on board. Thus, if you needed to go to the bathroom, you would let the bus driver know, and he would make a stop on the side of the road. But despite that incident of culture shock, the bus ride felt like a huge, fun slumber party with our travel group.
We arrived in Shangri-la (aka Zhongdian) early in the morning and were instantly shocked by how cold it was! The weather during the first half of our trip was around 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit; but once we arrived in Shangri-la, we had to adjust to 40-50 degree Fahrenheit weather. One of the first things I did was shop for winter items like gloves, a scarf, and a hat. The next day in Shangri-la, we hired a bus driver to take us to some places nearby. We walked around the Napa Hai fields, visited the Natural Stone Bridge Hot Springs, and explored the Da Bao Temple. Because we were in Tibetan Yunnan, the Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels and flags were plentiful. But my favorite part of Shangri-la was its atmosphere. We stayed at this nice hostel, N’s Kitchen and Lodge, and for once on this vacation, I could just curl up with a book and relax. The weather was also perfect for hot chocolate.
After 3 wonderful days in Shangri-la, we left for Tiger Leaping Gorge, which runs through the Haba Snow Mountain and the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Because of my sprained ankle, I prepared for the hike by buying a hiking stick and ankle brace. I’m glad I did because Tiger Leaping Gorge should not be missed! While hiking up to the High Path and along the side of the mountain, we saw the most breathtaking views–clouds hovering over the mountain tops, waterfalls glistening in the sun, and deep valleys that stretched for miles.
5 hours of hiking later, we were on our way to our next and last destination, LiJiang. It was also pretty relaxing here. I explored the Old Town of LiJiang, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and bought so many handicrafts and souvenirs. But after 10 days of traveling, I was ready to return home to Shanghai.
To sum up my trip, here are the top 5 things I learned:
- Learn to adjust–squatter toilets and sprained ankles do not work well together, but I had no choice in most places. Western-style toilets are not as widely available as they are in big cities like Shanghai.
- Be prepared–a compact Chinese dictionary, OTC medicine, wet wipes, and plenty of hand sanitizer were extremely helpful while traveling.
- Try something new at each place you go–I ate stinky tofu in Kunming and yak meat in Shangri-la for the first time.
- Meet new people–during our trip, we talked with a lot of travelers, who gave us great advice of things to do and see. My favorite people were the owners of N’s Kitchen and Lodge. We spoke both Chinese and English with them, and they were a tremendous help when we planned the rest of our trip. Plus, they were just really genuine, funny people.
- Just do it–don’t let people (or injuries) prevent you from exploring and doing what you want. If you get the chance to travel, make the most of it! When will you ever have this opportunity again?
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