Travels with Hyeongnim 5: Tiger Leaping Gorge to Shangri-La

Oh, Yunnan, province of incomparable beauty! Your mountains can bring a cyclist to his knees; your vistas can bring him to tears; your winds can freeze those very tears to his face. Your fields offer boundless bounty, but your restaurants and shops offer mostly ramen and eggs at $1 a piece. What, pray tell, is going on here?

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Desert? Desertified? I don’t know. We rode all day.

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Zara, who carried his bike up Annapurna, says about now: “these views remind me of the Himalayas, except way better.” Score, one more place I don’t need to bother going to. Then again, why not?!

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Slightly terrifying to ride on when it’s drizzingly and blustery.

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We passed a small town – “White Water Terrace” at about 5PM. A hotel owner came out and offered us a room, a meal, a hot shower; not wanting to “waste” any sunlight hours by not riding, we resisted her charms and kept on going. Fifteen minutes later, we’re climbing another mountain, headed to the middle of nowhere, not a house in sight, not an intersection on the map for another 20km+. The wind grew colder, the sun began to set, and the landscape was only rock quarries and dense forests – nowhere at all to make camp. Thankfully, and as always, just when things were getting really bad, we came across a tiny shop with an empty building about half-built. The shop owner let us stay for free, asking only that I give her grandkid 2RMB ($0.33) as a gift. If I weren’t doing this no-plastic thing, I would have bought everything in her store.

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I left Korea with absolutely no winter gear. I’m now finding out that even without long undies, undershirts, or socks, I can tolerate riding in temperatures nearing freezing. I don’t even need my jacket as long as the temperature’s above 10C/50F, or lower if I’m climbing.

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New lifetime record! BOOOOOOOOOYA. In middle school I couldn’t even run across a basketball court without having an asthma attack. This was the top of 4 days’ worth of mountains. 2500m, 3100m, 2800m, 3200m, 1750m, 2500m, 2000m, 2900m, 2200m, 3200m, 2800m, 3500m, 3000m, 3700m, and finally…

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10km of downhill and 20km of flat, all the way into town. We survived! After all this, I’m not even tired. Just cold.

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Tibetan prayer flags!

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People walking around stupas!

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Five days one bed (one time) no naps no showers no changes of clothes no toilets no dumplings. Peeling nose numb fingers cracked thumb cracked lip stomach wanting vegetables frickin cooooooooooooooooold.

What a great couple of days. Man, it’s good to be alive.

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5 Responses to Travels with Hyeongnim 5: Tiger Leaping Gorge to Shangri-La

  1. 썌키 says:

    Send me som momos, PLEASE.

  2. zara says:

    The day before we arrived shanglila, it was really coooold!

    • Michael Roy says:

      I know, I was worried you were going to lose a few fingers…근데 형님이 떠나고 나서는 날씨가 좀 쾐찮아졌더라고요 ^^

  3. mingyulee says:

    네가 나보다 더 멋지게 댕기네~ 짜슥