30th of April till 20th of May 2008
We did not feel the earthquake on the 12th of May. We learnt about it 2 days later, watching some images on TV in the remote village of Shitoucheng. We saw a few houses damaged and we didn’t understand it was such a big tragedy.
Kids alone in the Temple
After Kunming on the 30th of August we headed to Dali. There we left the kids in the Wu Wei Si temple. They wanted to stay one full week alone in the temple. When we first asked the boy teaching Kung fu about the possibility to let the kids alone, he was a little shocked and surprised. But the Master was happy about the idea of having 2 more kids around him and accepted our proposal. Apart from the lost of Nina’s new camera, the kids spent a nice week without problem. Mira is now a master in fighting with stick, Sashko improved his Tai Chi (kung fu was difficult for him due to his broken hand; by the way, don’t worry, everything is fixed now and he is able to do his math and Bulgarian with his right hand again). They enjoyed it a lot and they were quite sorry we came back so quickly after only one week alone. Anyway they plan to come back after few years.
During that time we went alone to the nice and quiet valley of Shaxi. Shaxi is composed of several traditional Bay villages and is said to be the only survived market town on the tea and horse trail (for your knowledge this trail was used for trading between the villages of Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Tibet and SouthWest China). We had very nice time over there, walking east, west, south on the nearby mountains and between the fields. In every village there was always people to invite us for tea, for sharing their meal with us or just to sit in silence together. We were really touched by the generosity of the people there.
After Shaxi we took the kids and went to Lijang – one of the most touristy place of China. Like in Dali – thousands of Chinese tourist (so eager to take pictures with Sashko and Mira) on the main street but we were alone, walking on the small back streets of the old town. We met Dominique over here – a French trekking guide, working in Yunnan since few years. He talked to us about the untouched village of Baoshan-Shitoucheng and it changed our plans. The next day we were on the bus to Shitoucheng. Five hours of bus on an asphalt road, slowly turning into a dirty path, 20 minutes by foot, and we achieve the 100families of the stone village Shitoucheng (the first 40 min of the journey the driver put us in the trunk of the bus to avoid paying the fee, collected by the Chinese government to use the road leading to a tourist attraction we were not going to... ) Baoshan-Shitoucheng Shitoucheng and the surrounding villages are far away from any big cities and seems to have been spared from any kind of modernisation. Apart from TV and mobile phone, nothing came to disturb the peaceful life of the valley: no cars, no roads, no tourists or so few that tried to be discrete and to leave from their stay here only their footprints in the muddy path. We spent 4 days there. After thousands of tourists in Lijang it was a pleasure to walk alone on the paths around Baoshan-Shitoucheng, crossing only local people going to their fields, walking on a path literally dig in the cliff, half way between the top of the mountain and the Yangzi river, passing through 100m long tunnels made on the rocks at 2800m (built by the army of Gengis Khan in the 13th century? - to be checked).
on the way to Shangri-La
We headed after to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Due to the nasty weather we couldn't appreciated as much as we wanted. It is supposed to be the dry season and May is one of the best month to visit the area but since we 3 weeks, we have rain almost everyday (we didn't see the rain since last August In Gernmany so we are not really used to it ...). It was raining all the afternoon of the first day of the trek and we got completely wet (especially Damien not having a jacket). We shortened our stay in the gorge and headed north to Zhondian together with our new friends Anne and Assaf - a French-Israeli couple we met on the trek. We visited the city, the impressive Tibetan monastery. We extended our Chinese visa: we have now all our documents and plane tickets until the end of the trip.
We are now at 3300m - kids have never been so high. We are leaving this afternoon to the boarder with Tibet, Myanmar and Sichuan, at the foot of the impressive and untouched Kawa Karpo (6740m).
Promise we will be reasonable with the treks but kids are pushing us to go higher and higher and to walk in the snow.
bye for now - sorry, no picture for today there are ready but we can not put them on the blog...