Headed Back in Time

Picking up where I left off, camping at 3000m:

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I awoke to a pretty mellow sunrise. I was hoping my 3000m perch would present me with something a little more mind-boggling, but the surrounding mountains blocked my view.

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By 8, the sun was already blazing, so I took the chance to enjoy some very rare half-naked-on-a-mountaintop time.

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After several long hours of monotonous beauty (if you want to know what an average day is like for me, just download the three above pictures and then flip back and forth through them for six hours), I got to Nuodeng, which the LP says has some cobblestones and donkeys. It’s on the way south, why not check it out?

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It turned out to be a really cool, chill, pleasant place. An old town more or less built into a hillside, so small and steep and compact that no development could possibly come to it. Just a few old courtyard-houses-turned-guest-houses. Not even a single restaurant or open-air market. Two horses watched me every time I used the outdoor loo.

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I stayed here, at the first place I found. The owners were so old and adorable that I promised to do what I could to advertise for them, so: If you ever come to Yunnan, stay here! The places in Lonely Planet overcharge big time – $5 for a mat on the floor or $30 for a room. Gujin costs $5 per bed.

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The rooms were nothing special, but Grandma and Grampa and daughter-in-law were mean cooks.

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Her specials included this sliced “Chinese Lettuce” root and fried kidney beans. Oh, and the family made their own cured pork (minimal level of cruelty!) and corn booze. I was pressured into consuming both.

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The other guesthouses were a little more happening, with a younger crowd and more social atmostphere. I got the best of both worlds: kicking back with the family in the early evenings, then heading up to the better-known guesthouses for drinks and chats with the other backpackers.

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That’s not to say that Gujin isn’t a happening place – they have Taoist (is that a synonym for “atonal”?) music parties every night.

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It wasn’t until day three that I went out and had a proper look around the town.

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I saw a characteristic patterns of purploe splotches on the cobblestone and looked up: sure enough, mulberries! Not quite ready to eat, unfortunately.

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No cars, no scooters, no elevators. If you want something carried, you use a horse.

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Why are they so placid when people are loading them up with junk to lug around? Do they really love their stables and corn husks that much?

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Up to the Taoist temple.

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Ah ha! Some Italians were here! “In this (whatever “ameno” means) place, infinitely distant from the world, we heard the words of the wise master. The goofy glasses hide ancient knowledge. ps…even if he seems like kind of a crackpot.”

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The wise master, guardian of the Taoist temple, speaker of uninterpretable mumblings.

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The Nuodeng color scheme: brown with cracks.

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“Preface: (…)”

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Goodbye, Gujin family! Thanks for the memories. And for the bacon.

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