We took a map and around 2 in the afternoon we started walking. The first part is not really trekking, as you just walk along the road to reach the point where the real trek starts. It took us around one hour under the heat to get to the starting path. And oh my god, the trekking was starting quite strong: what we saw from there was a really steep and narrow path going uphill with a few goats and shepherds on the way. Wow, if this is only the start, we can die, there...
When we got there, the first thing was recovering by having some food and tea. The guesthouse was really beautiful, with a nice courtyard where to chill out while enjoying awesome views of the mountains. After the rest, we left our stuff in the room (a simple one but with beautiful views from the widow) and went for a walk around the village before it got dark.
As it was getting already dark, we came back to the guesthouse to have some beers and to chat a bit with the Chinese we met on the way. He spoke some English and told us to join him and a couple of more friends the following morning to go trekking together. Ok, we thought, at least this way we won't get lost that much, as they could speak Chinese and ask for directions.
Later on, some Westerners came to the guesthouse and we had a chat with them, too. In this case, they were from the States and New Zealand and they were camping outside the guesthouse (quite a thing, as at night it was really cold) and they told us they had the same problem with the fences at the beginning (good to know we were not the only idiots trekking attached to fences)
So we woke up around 8, had some breakfast and started walking with the Chinese we had met and two more trekkers (Chinese ones, too). It was quite cold, but the first part of the trek was quite pleasant, as we were walking in a flat area. In a couple of hours, though, we reached the 28 bends. It is a narrow path going uphill and every turn is marked with a number. Actually it's not that hard, and in less than one hour you are done with them. We only had a stop to rest in the middle and sooner than expected we were at the very top of the whole trekking enjoying one of the most beautiful views of it. We were sitting in a wooden shed and admiring the gorge, the mountains and the river, which was far far away below us.
A few pictures and again to the path. Now it was a really pleasant walk of one or two hours until the next village. The views were not that impressive but still it was very nice, When we reached the village, we had lunch, we rest for an hour or so and back to the trail for a couple of more hours until another village, this time for a beer. Now it was only two hours until reaching Tina's Guesthouse, the end of the trekking, but we didn't know it was probably the toughest part of the trekking.
We followed the path for about one hour or more until we finally reached Tina's and the end of the trekking. All in all were some 7 hours of walking which really were worth the effort. Astonishing landscapes, beautiful villages and the sense of being in the middle of nature made it one of the highlights of the whole trip.
Now, however, the main concern was coming back to Qiaotou. After having some noodles at Tina's we found out there were no more buses going to Qiaotou, so we and the Chinese decided to start walking along the main road and hitch-hike.
It took us some half an hour to find someone who took us back to Qiaotou. We jumped in the minivan and drove the 10km or so back to Jane's guesthouse. And wow, we though the amazing views were over and it was just to get as quick as possible to Qiaotou but what we saw on that road was comparable to the views of the trekking. The road goes along the river in the middle of the gorge and what you see is really impressive. It was almost sunset and it made it even more special, really really nice.
But it was just some 20 minutes until the driver dropped us by Jane's and we said goodbye to the Chinese trekkers. A bit of food, talking with some people that was starting the trekking the following day (and advicing them about the infamous fences) and to sleep as we were quite destroyed after the last 2 days.
In an hour and a half we were back in the fairytale town, we went to the same hostel and devoted the day to wander around Lijiang again. As we had already seen everything, it was a quite relaxing day just waiting for the next one to go to Chengdu.
And so we did. The following day we woke up, went to have breakfast and to the bus station after stocking up on goods for the long bus trip. At one in the afternoon we had the bus, and this time it was not a sleeper one, but a normal seating bus. And from the very first moment we jumped in it we realised it was going to be quite a tough trip, this time.
And it was. Actually it was, by far, the worst road trip so far since we started in Istanbul. The bus took 24 hours to reach Chengdu, as planned, but the worst is this strange tradition they have in China to stop for sleeping. This time we stopped for 7 hours, yes, 7 hours!!! somewhere on the road next to a hotel. The drivers went to the hotel and the passengers were left inside the bus. This only confirms my opinion that most of Chinese people are stupid. Yes, they are. They have 2 drivers, so why the hell they have to stop for 7 freaking hours to sleep? why don't they do like everywhere else and take turns so we don't have to be stopped 7 hours and we can save this time? I don't get it, really. And of course, we were provided with only one blanket, so it was freezing cold in there. But drivers were enjoying their hotel at the same time... stupid.
And you know the best? They are not only loud, rude and dirty. They are disgusting. We had a man seating in front of us who started spitting from the very beginning of the trip in a bucket meant to be used as a rubbish bin. And when I say spitting is not exactly accurate. That bastard was spitting till the point of vomiting there. It is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in a public transport. This time I even went to the driver and told him I couldn't live like that. I was also about of vomiting thanks to that ¿person? They told him to go spitting or vomiting to the window, which he did, but only for a while.
I'm sorry, but most of Chinese people are like that. They can say it's a cultural thing or whatever, but most of Chinese people (of course not all) are stupid, rude, loud, dirty and disgusting, very disgusting. They don't care at all about other people, they just keep spitting around and doing whatever they want, and this time it was really too much.
The part of the trip in China was nice. We only visited Chengdu and Yunnan, a province I had not visited during my first trip 5 years ago. In these 5 years, though, I have noticed some differences: China is more developed in terms of infrastructures, prices have grown up, Internet speed has gone down, it looks like they are finally trying to do something with pollution (all motorbikes are electrical)... but they still have a lot to do, especially with educating their people and their manners.
You can now check the Travel Guide to the Tiger Leaping Gorge and all the pictures of the trekking!