London to Sydney 2005 travel blog

Local houses en route

Dancers

Old Town

Stream in old town

Chinese Opera

Dancers getting ready

Just looking

Local costume

Lijiang lane


We ate breakfast in a small street cafe near the hotel. I had a potato pancake which appeared to have chocolate in it. Robin had a plain pancake and a greasy fried egg. The latter are the nearest to a western breakfast that we usually get! The hotel lady advised on the whereabouts of the petrol station and the direction of Lijiang. We later heard that, after we had peeled off the previous night, the local police had got the petrol station staff out of bed for the rest of the group. The police have been very helpful and well informed.

After we had filled up with petrol we found a garage where the staff washed the mud off the inside and the outside of the car for us. They refused payment so we offered M & M's, stickers and pictures of the car.

The drive to Lijiang was magical and is a definite contender for the best drive of the rally along with Taxkorgan down to Kashgar and the Hunza valley in Pakistan.

Leaving Yongshang we quickly started to descend a precipice with a fantastic view over the flat-bottomed valley below. The long series of hairpins finally ran out and we continued along the side of the valley with terraced fields on either side full of farmers, ox ploughs, donkey carts etc. The houses here are also pretty with ridge tiles that point upwards at the end.

At the end of the valley we started the next short climb before descending again to follow a stunning river valley with near vertical sides of rock with patches of green clinging on to them. Only marred by the odd mine entry and muddy truck tracks on an otherwise excellent road. The river eventually ran into the Yangze and immediately we crossed it to start the big 1200m ascent up the very steep hillside on the far side. Again, stunning views at every turn, although the few collections of buildings were rather a mess. At the top, the trees were all fir trees and the ground flattened as we turned a corner to see the valley with Lijiang and a dammed lake below it. A simple descent and excellent route into Lijiang centre led us to asking the way only 200 yards from the hotel and we arrived at mid-day. The drive was definitely one to be done in daylight and we felt very pleased to have stopped the night before when we did. The others got in at 3.30 a.m.

The only downside was that we had missed a morning in Lijiang and had little to eat, so our second priority (the first being to dump a huge heap of laundry with housekeeping)was to head into the old town and wander through the pretty streets that run alongside streams to find a restaurant for lunch. The vegetables were excellent but the chicken seemed to be largely the bits that we do not eat in the west. I am sure that they are all specialities over here.

It was China national day and all the locals were out in full constume to take part in a display (competition) in a stage set up in the little square and were all practising in the big area in front of the water wheel. Although this is clearly a big (chinese)tourist area and most of the shops sell tourist stuff, you can see why people come here. It is fabulous.

Went to a garage to inspect the bash we had taken to the exhaust. A rock had completely flattened the flexible section, so there seemed no option than to try and straighten it - which damaged it further and it has been repaired with a combination of welding and gun gum. I left the car overnight at the garage for it to harden.

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