Retracing my Steps: Shangri-la to Lijiang

By the end of two weeks in Shangri-la, I had finished all my blog posts, gotten a sufficient amount of rest, waited out the cold, and even had a mini-birthday party. It was time to get back to my day job.

As is so often the case, I was faced with a choice between a national road, likely to be fully paved, dotted with restaurants, and heavy on the traffic, and a provincial road, about which nothing can be known in advance. Generally. In this case, though, Lhamo, a Tibetan friend from Shangri-la, informed me that her tiny little hometown was on the provincial road, just about 100km away, and that her family would be willing to put me up (and put up with me) for a night or two or longer if I wanted. Score! How to find her house? Just make it to the village and then ask anyone to point me to Lhamo’s mama’s place. Ahhh, the simplicity of village life.

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Napa Lake, located on a plateau at 3500m.

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Up once again to 3700 meters, probably the highest I’ll be until I get to Nepal. Downhill for almost 70km to Lhamo’s place.

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Lhamo had said that the road was paved but crowded, and she hadn’t mentioned that the scenery would be totally incredible. Among the best that I’ve seen. I got to watch this tiny little river grow into a big canyon-cutter. Eventually it joined the Yangtze, which I would then ride along for the next two days.

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Yangtze.

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After a nice 100km day, I made it to Lhamo’s place. Her mom had already been warned about my veggie habits, so she prepared a meal of fried potatoes and pumpkin, lettuce soup, and scrambled eggs – all from their own garden, all cooked with walnut oil rather than pig fat! Deluxe! Lhamo, you rule! Anyone who is reading this is officially obligated to host and feed Lhamo if she ever makes it to the US of A.

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The view from my room at Lhamo’s place. Courtyard, mountains, garden. Not pictured: five chickens and two pigs in the pen.

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The kitchen. Most of the cooking was done in the big cast-iron inset pot in the corner there.

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The heat for which is provided by this fireplace-in-the-wall outside the house.

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Ehrm…monkey skull.

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Depsite having just wrapped up 15 days of vacation, I took the next day off. How could I pass up another day of local home-cooking? I asked Mom if there was anything good to do, and she suggested I go looking for the temple nearby. I couldn’t understand her directions at all and wound up wandering around in the forest alone for three hours. At one point I stopped for about ten minutes while a black butterfly flew circles around me, eventually setting on my pants.

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I did find this shrine, where I chiled out and did a bit of outdoor meditation – a first for me.

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I also watched this little dude for about ten minutes on the way down.

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Set off again the next morning, only to run into this after about 20km. One particularly gnarly bump jostled my handlebar bag so hard that my phone jumped comparments and my wallet, holding somewhere between $40 and $60, went flying – though it wasn’t till 40km later that I noticed it was gone. A whole week’s cash, gone in an instant! All that money I saved by mooching off of Jessica for two weeks! Ouch. At times like this, I’m comforted by the old adage “Easy come, easy go.” After all, I earned that much in food and wine just for working with the dentist’s two wonderful little boys for an hour each in the evenings.

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Splendid weather, not to mention flat roads and fantastic scenery for 100km. Nice birthday present, universe!

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“The First Bend of the Yangtze”

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How I spent my birthday evening: sleeping in my tent in the corner of a gas station. After a day of riding 8AM to 8PM, with hardly any breaks. 100km of flat and then 50km uphill. I nearly killed myself and vowed never to do it again. Maybe that’ll be my birthday present to myself: stop kicking my own ass so much.

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3 Responses to Retracing my Steps: Shangri-la to Lijiang

  1. Jonathan says:

    beautiful photos and kitchen

  2. mingyulee says:

    祝你生日快乐, 王mike