The Yunnan 10 day tour involved a trek of Tiger Leaping Gorge. I know me and my fear of heights and a 7-9 hour arduous, difficult and perilous trek with narrow paths and sheer cliffs is not my thing so I went for the soft option and took a taxi. First I visited Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge. You have to hand it to the Chinese, they choose the most poetic names for places and makes you want to go just for the name. The origin of this one is that a tiger jumped the gorge trying to escape a hunter. Beautiful mountains in the gorge and waters the colour of jade. Just spectacular.
There are viewing platforms along the walk down to the gorge where you can stop and admire the view. It was truly stunning. The walk up was a little arduous but very amusing as it presented the perfect opportunity to engage with the local women. No language was needed, just a smile, a bit of huffing and puffing every time either me or them stopped for a rest which invariable made someone smile back or giggle. We were in this together, a solidarity of sorts, everyone shifting along the benches scattered on the ascent to make more room for the next weary traveller. There was a lot of laughing and giggling. I loved it.
Years ago I saw a travel series with Michael Palin. I couldn’t remember what country it was about or anything at all about it except there was a scene from an outdoor loo with the most strikingly beautiful view. It is one of those random things one files away and remembers. I mean, really, a toilet of all things to remember? And yet, there it was filed away for years in the recesses of my memory banks.
As I arrived onto our hostel hours earlier than the trekkers in my group, that small bit of Michael Palin trivia information came rushing back to my head as I realised this was the place. The best view from a toilet? Without a doubt. Close your eyes to everything else around you though. I had to make a great effort to push aside the fact that the boy working in the guest house was nowhere near 16 as he claimed. Not my battle but upsetting nonetheless.