Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ruth's actual feeling for snow

Blog craziness continues. Amazing what a two day gap in your itinerary can do for ya. Pictorials - Zhongdian to Deqin

On the edge of Zhongdian was a pretty impressive monastary filled with monks and shiny, shiny buildings. It sat on the side of a hill and overlooked these wild looking barren plains with mountains sitting serenely in the distance. It was so peaceful I contemplated joining the monastic order until I realised I'd have to wear maroon and yellow robes. SO doesn't go with my complexion.

Anyhow, the next day we headed to Deqin. Its 187k north but takes about five to six hours on the mountain roads (it ended up taking eight). First stop, Napa Hai Lake, a large inland seasonal body of water that is apparently home to a number of rare birdlife. To test this theory, I did a good old aussie "COOOO-EE" and those birds flew away in terror. To think, I was an environmentalist once haha har!

What you are witnessing here is history. This is Ruth touching snow for the first time. Real snow. Not pissy on the top of mountain snow or small flakes. The real deal. Before we got out of the van, I warned her that her first inclination on touching it would be to throw a snow ball at me and that she shouldn't do that. Of course, as soon as I got out of the van I threw one at her. Why? I'm a juvenile idiot... Ruth then threw some at me and her journey to the dark side was complete.

Despite our guide turning out to be the prince of arseholes and trying to rip us off, nothing could take away from the breathtaking scenery as we slowly climbed our way up the Tibetan plateau. The second photo is of the "first bend in the Yangtze river." Very special, very auspicious.

We then drove for a couple of hours on treacherous, windy mountain roads through a blizzard. Well, Ruth wanted snow and she got it. This is the view from the back seat of the van. Oddly, while I was fearing for my life, Ruth sat contently enjoying the snow show.

Sadly, the blizzard was a precursor to the weather for the next few days. The main reason to go to Deqin was to see the Meili Xueshan mountain range, part of the himalayas but Deqin was rained in and we couldn't see shit. People go to Deqin to see the stuff around Deqin and when you can't see it, well... I'm not saying the town's a bit of a shithole but its a bit of a shithole. Anyhow, I'll never stop being amused by Yaks on the main street of any town, this one hanging out a few doors down from our hotel.

Fortunately, our hotel made us feel at home. If you can't read it (I know its dark) its says "Aliens and Overseas Chinese Permitted to Lodge." If you're wondering, I am not an overseas chinese but an official "alien." When we've travelled 80,000,000 light years from our home planet and need somewhere to put our feet up, we choose the Deqin Tibet Hotel.

Imagine, if you can, a beautiful mountain range that makes your jaw drop. Well, the mountains are the white cloud bits. At this point, Ruth and I decided to bail as it made no sense to stay in a town where you couldn't actually see the thing you went there to see.

Sadly, as the bus climbed out of the town, it turned out the mountains could be seen on the morning we were leaving. The bus stopped at a viewpoint for five minutes while the driver said some prayers to his ancestors. So for five hurried minutes we got to see what we had travelled so far for and even in that instant, it was worth it. The photos just can't do it justice but I'm not sure I've seen anything so beautiful before.

1 comment:

tim said...

john! i'm glad you turned the china corner. the stereo moments are rare but they're worth the long stretches of am radio, huh.
by the way, your description of dali was so accurate it had me guffawing in the middle of this hotel lobby.
me and the folks just got back from emei shan, which was really superb. i guess you guys are almost outta here?! i miss you both. take care.