The Road to Everest

Day 23: Thursday 18 May 2006
May 19, 2006,

Deqen - Lijiang

We left the hotel initially to wind our way along roads through vegetation similar to southern France and over snow-covered alpine-style passes. En route we passed the Dongzhulin Monastery, which was followed by splendid views all the way down into the large town of Benzdon.

From here we picked up the Jinsha River which is an upper tributary of the great Yangtse, and proceeded into a village called Xingfu, which means ‘happiness’ in Mandarin, before heading to our lunch halt at an excellent restaurant overlooking the famous monastery of Zhongdian, which was resplendent in the golden sunshine.

After lunch, we took the twisty but scenic route to Tiger Leaping Gorge. Along the way we encountered another brief hailstorm and passed our first sign indicating that we were entering the area known as Shangri-La. Some 50km on we saw the White Water Terrace – an impressive limestone escarpment – before a further 100km brought us to the famous gorge. Some parts of the road became very narrow here owing to landslide damage, but luckily we were in no hurry and most people enjoyed a cup of jasmine tea and a bowl of walnuts at Woody’s, a friendly café that overlooks the gorge.

From the gorge, we turned on to the main road and passed many terrace farms producing tea and tobacco, before making the quick 100km drive to the scenic city of Lijiang, our overnight halt and location of a most welcome rest day.

Everyone made sure to fill up with petrol/diesel before heading into Lijiang, since a delivery problem meant that supplies were limited – with fuel going to the highest bidder in many of the city’s service stations.

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Day 30: Thursday 25 May 2006
Zhaoqing – Splendid China, Shenzhen

On this our final day of the Great Tour of China 2006, we made a short journey mainly on expressway from Zhaoqing to the Splendid China Cultural Park in Shenzhen for the ceremonial finish.

May 26, 2006
Day 29: Wednesday 24 May 2006
Guilin - Zhaoqing

We left Gulin on smooth fast roads with wonderful views of the ‘eggbox’ type hills. These are hills of limestone which have eroded into shape over centuries covered in native vegetation and resembling very large teeth.

May 25, 2006
Day 28: Tuesday 23 May 2006
Kaili - Guilin

The agenda today was another long driving day to Guilin along a mixture of road surfaces: smooth main roads, bumpy secondary roads and some roads still under construction.

May 24, 2006
Day 27: Monday 22 May 2006
Huangguoshu Falls - Kaili

Before negotiating another day on the road, everyone spent a couple of hours today visiting China’s most scenic falls at Huangguoshu. Set against lush, local vegetation, the falls make up in beauty for what they lack in size.

May 23, 2006
Day 26: Sunday 21 May 2006
Kunming – Huangguoshu Falls

This morning we took the northern road from Kunming on a mix of main highway, dual carriageway and back roads. The first town we passed through was Quiyang en route to Honggu, a large town with coal mining and steel production as it’s main industries.

May 23, 2006