Tuesday, December 23rd, 2003 – Day 308 to Wednesday, December 24th, 2003 – Day 309

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2003 – Day 308

I was up at 8.00am and headed to the market for some steam buns. I also left my bags at the hostel and only took a day pack. The bus was at 9.20am. It was cold. We had lunch after 3 hours. It was OK but I made the mistkake of not

getting off at Benzilan. I had expected two other locals to get off here but did not. I knew it was the town as I went throught it but its so small that once we passed it was too late to get off. I decided to stay non the extra 4 hours to Deqin.The town of Deqin is nothing to rave about. The whole purpose of the journey from Zhongdian to Deqin is the journey itself.

It was scary. There was ice ans snow on the road in shaded areas and we passed over very high ranges. There are no crah barriers. One mistake by the driver or oncoming traffic, and we would plummet hundreds on metres. I had to close my eyes part of the time.

Once there, I walked 200 metre to the Tibet Hotel. A twin bedded room was 50 Yuan (5 Euro). It was very cold. Its a small town with one main street.Lots of various tribes were down in the market. Its small with lots of outdoor POOL

tables. Still, many different looking faces. Some guys were as big as me, wearing cowboy hats and boots. Others were dressed in balck head to foot with red bekts with the women covering there faces. Others guys were wild looking

with long hair and as if they came from the stone age (no offense).

Anyway the real celebs are the goat like, feral like cows. They wander up and down the streets eating out of dustbins. Very extradordianry to wtch them as they take no notice of humans. There is little grass here and they eat anything from leaves (even dead ones) to human rubbish.

Anyway no restaurants have English menus here and I had two beers before I set off to eat. It can be difficult to get your point across. The first one was too hard so I had a beer (I was warming to the idea). In the next place we went throught the Lonely Planet. its the pits as it does not give the words (like the Vietnam Guide) for common food such as rice, noodles, chicken etc. All it gives is speciality food like ell, snake, shark. Anyway we joined the dots from various foods and I got a nice diner for 11 Yuan. I was hungry soon again (beer talking) and saw a a nice lady in a restaurant. It was empthy so I pointed to her fridge. She let me pick what I wanted. I choose a big streak (I was drunK0 and soona fter I had a massive bowl of rice fit for two and a separate pate of beef and vegetbles for 12 Yuan. I even started talking to another Diner.

As mentioned before 65% of Chinese men smoke. I ahve been offered dozens of times. Its a pity I must refuse as its a good way to begin a chat. Anyway I had one tonight. Teh meal cost 12 Yuan (.20 Euro). Its nice here that even though

there is no central heating, they haave a cool (Or hot) alternative. They place charcoal in stainles steel basin an light them. A restauranrt may have half a dozen of them. They place them beside you as you eat. They are very warm. The

five fingers guesthouse during the Gorge Trak had the same.

Anyway there was little to do tonight. I had a warm night with my thermal clothes and electric Blanket. I wathed a ba movie called Ed’s Next Move on TV. Chinese TV buy the cheapest shoddiest movies. I did not see any other tourists about.

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Deqin – The Town (23-12-2003)

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Deqin – Mad Cows (23-12-2003)

Wednesday, December 24th, 2003 – Day 309

We had passed three snow-capped mountains yesterday – Meili, Baimang and Haba – standing magnificently over the landscape, crisscrossed by the Jinsha River and Lancang (Mekong) river which are flanked by overhanging gorges.

Although many refer ZhongDian county as the “Shangri-la”, a hidden paradise in James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon. Personally, Lonely Planet says Deqin is the REAL PARADISE.

I was up at 9.00am and visited the market. Various peopel werejust arriving. Tibetans, Lisus, Naxis and Yis. I decided to walk to to Fei Lai Temple. Well, I did not as it was 10km up hill. I hitched and got a lift from a National PArk Official. Excellent.

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Deqin – Fei Lai Temple (24-12-2003)

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Deqin – On the Road to Fei Lai Temple (24-12-2003)

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Deqin – Fei Lai Temple (24-12-2003)

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Deqin – A town on the valley floor on the road abck down from the Fei Lai Temple (24-12-2003)

Tibetan houses are very diiferent from all others I ahve seena nd they are very distinct. Built like fortresses Tibetan farmhouses are massive, squat, 3 storied things with earthen roofs and beautifully decorated brightly painted windows. Most have an inner courtyard on the third floor with perhaps an open granary on the fourth.

The Tibetan Fei Lai Temple is small with prayer cylinders inside and out. These cylinders contain sacred scripts whose vibrations go out into the universe when the cylinders are turned.

The mountain pass into Deqin valley lies at the snowline and the surrounding snowcapped mountaintops are blinding in the sunlight. The lower mountainsides are brown bare rock, too poor to host anything more than occasional scrub except for the few squares of cultivated fields of rice. Nevertheless, they are majestic and indescribably beautiful. In these mountains, mundane thoughts fall away and what remains borders on the spiritual. It is perhaps for this reason that the Tibetans build their monasteries in these regions, away from the material trappings of society.

In 1206 Genghis Khan broke through the Great Wall of China and in 1252 Kublai Khan rode into Yunnan. These mountains and the resistance of the fierce minority kingdoms cost him 27 years before subduing Yunnan and bringing it within the proper borders of China.

Anyway I had the place to myself and the views were fab. often the snow capped mountain can not be seen with cloud and mist but I had blue skies today. It was cold though. Every bus that came from Dqin stopped here so that passengers come burn some sacred bus, bow and pray for a safe journey. Most traffic stops here to pray Journey. it makes me fear for my bus journey back.

I walked back down and it was nice. i saw many goat like cattle eating leaves and twigs standing half way up mountain that seem too steep for any animal. They are like goats here.

It took me an hour to walk back down. There was little to do for the rest of the day. I had noodles twice. They only cost 2 Yuan on Zhongian but cost 2-5 here depending on what extra bit they trown in. They overcharge a little!!

Little to mdo. Drank a beer, wrote inthe traveller guesthouse book, watched them expalin English Christmas words like Carol-ling on TV. Nothing to do. Found an Internet Cafe behind a curtain. No English words like Internet or Email. Was

not in the mood and spend 30 minyutes there (2 Yuan). Had dinner in the same place as last night. nice lady, great food. Felt a bit lonely as it was my first Christmas away from home. USually I would be in the HARP bar having a few pints.

I miss it.

I was in bed by 10.45pm. It was cold and I decided to leave tomorrow- Christmas

Day.

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Deqin – Boys will be boys (24-12-2003)

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Deqin – the Mountains around town (24-12-2003)