Then we do a monster climb and descent, and no photos for some reason.
The bloom looks like Incarvillea, a couple of which come from here, but the plant is shrubby and the foliage isn’t right. We spent a few minutes just now trying unsuccessfully to find the species name
Three very decent plants in one day, without leaving the road. Heartbreaking in a way as this is a plant collector’s paradise, but this is too late in the season, we’re not alpine enough and we’re on a group ride. Somewhere up there, at some time maybe a month or 2 earlier, Gentiana farreri, for example, was blooming. Epic adventurous plant collecting history was made here by Forrest (who died in Teng Yueh here), Delavay (died somewhere unspecified in Yunnan), Cavalarie (murdered outside of Kunming, Yunnan), Farrer (who died near the China/Burma border). David, many others. If this piques your interest, here’s the wiki entry for George Forrest. Victorian era plant collecting heroism
A river again, this time the Mekong
Here’s Anita is making us lunch. Jamil is strictly Halal. So that he doesn’t starve to death he’s come prepared with all kinds of stuff for emergencies, like this. Anita plays Mom and we all join in. Well, the four of us on three bikes, now that we’re basically not talking to the rest of the group. OMG. Solo is so easy!
The market, a few doors up. I took some photos at the end of this table of things I wouldn’t publish here, btw. I know we’ve gone private blog, but my daughters read this and would be upset. So things are very different everywhere you look in Chinese markets
It’s all about this. The view across the valley to the Himalayan Plateau, but in particular to this mountain, Meili Snow Mountain, right on the Yunnan/Tibet border. Also this is where the Jinsha (upper Yangtze) Mekong (Nu) and Salwan (Lancang) flow from, and beyond, with combined drainages that include half of Thailand, nearly all of Laos, some of South Vietnam, most of Cambodia and a large percentage of central China. So one of the more extraordinary places on the planet
There are 13 peaks in immediate view over 6000 meters, with Kawagebo below at 6740 (almost the same elevation as Huascaran in the Cordillera Blanca, much missed because the riding was so much better) We’re viewing from 3550 meters
We were tired from the day, crashed early and were up early to watch the sun on the peaks, above. Apparently we were lucky as they’re usually clouded in.
The top. The story here is that there are snowstorms all around us. We’ve threaded our way through but the group wants to hang out here as the snow is dusting us, the rest of the group has zip experience of alpine road conditions and Anita says she has never even seen snow. Lucinda and I are never the first to get nervous in any group, but here it’s obvious any weather could happen immediately. It’s below zero, the clouds are swirling around us and puking snow on surrounding peaks and we’re trying to hustle everyone along, with little success (they’re taking photos), before we get snowed in for the winter and resort to murdering and eating the girls first. So we tell them for the third time this is not a good situation, we don’t want to eat anyone, and take off, trying to force the issue. Fortunately, they follow shortly and all ends well. It was fun, really, but was possibly more serious than my friends realized
Then the first view of the lake. Shangri-La is on the north shore. It look magical already. We all stop and think about the ride to here.
Shangri-La is a fictional name and place from the book Lost Horizon by James Hilton. The original name is Zhongdian but they changed it in 2001. The Chinese liked the fictional name and it’s good for business
The it starts to rain gently. We all stop to look at the above view. Bee gets off Greg’s bike and jumps into the truck, to stay dry, rather than cover up for the short ride into town.
Reed, Andrew and Jamil take off and I follow Greg into town. To make a long and horrible story short, Greg overtakes a semi just as it swerves to miss 2 pigs and gets sideswiped hard. We’re immediately behind and watch the bike explode and Greg get thrown over the guard rail into a 3′ deep concrete ditch. Nightmare.
We pull over and jump into the ditch with Greg. He’s got lucky and has just broken his upper arm (and clavicle, we find out later) But in huge pain. The truck stops, calls the riders ahead, and Bee joins me in the ditch. We do the standard things to help Greg and wait for the ambulance, which takes forever
A Yak for Chinese tourists to ride. A very strange animal. We eat Yak regularly for dinner, it’s good. Jamil is OK with it as the killing method is sufficiently Hamal for him. And in fact Stephan had a Yak burger here and said it was the best burger he’d ever had
We weren’t supposed to take pictures, but at one point one of us (who because of his own strong religious convictions is our moral decision maker on these things) whips out his camera and we all take a photo or two. This isn’t a good one, but you can see the extraordinary detail, color and scale. It’s the most impressive interior I’ve seen in Asia