I wake up early and ask the woman at the hostel about an area I want to go hiking. She doesn’t know the place. Okay. I walk in the early morning light just before the sun makes its way over the mountains.
I meet a woman. She’s from Kunming. She tells me that she comes here on the weekends for hiking. We agree the cities of Yunnan are too touristy but the hiking is nice. She tells me of a trail going over the mountains to a village where the people wear brightly colored clothes. We part ways.
I walk back to the hostel via the dirt road from yesterday. The guy at the hostel spots me and asks where I wanted to go. I tell him about One Thousand Lion Mountain but he’s never heard of it. I ask for suggestions and he mentions a hike through the mountains… He makes it sound difficult and doesn’t bother elaborating with a map. I go back to my original request and he uses the Internet.
I eat breakfast and head to the spot where the bus dropped me off. I’m waiting for the bus to Jianchuan but no luck. I keep noticing a bunch of green vans and walk up hill to check it out. I point to where I want to go and the driver agrees but then waves me off to the other driver… And back again. I’m in the van.
Back on the winding mountain road to Jianchuan. We arrive in town but it’s not the bus station. Despite being capable of putting on my bag, the driver insists on helping me by holding up my backpack. So sweet! In passing, I saw something that might be the bus station and I’m grateful to be right for a change.
It’s late and I’m not sure the hike is worth the effort but the detour has been so so. I go for it. Unfortunately there’s very few buses and the last one is at 3:30. I leave my backpack at the station and head out. Google maps is still with me so it’s easy to find my way. I was hoping it would take less time because I thought the bus station was farther away but it’s still a forty minute walk.
Finally at One Thousand Lion Mountain or rather Qianshi Shan, I see the stairs and think it’s not so bad. I go for it.
Big mistake. That was just the warm up. The Chinese believe walking up 999 stairs will increase your lifespan. China is adding another twenty years to mine.
I keep climbing the stairs, focusing only on moving forward till I reach the top with the lion statues mocking me.
It’s much easier from here. There’s a couple aged and I wonder how they handled the stairs. Better than me probably.
I’m enjoying walking among the lion statues. I wish I got here earlier! I know I won’t be able to walk the entire pathway up the mountain so I settle for silly photos of myself.
The path leads unexpectedly to a series of hanging temples. Not sure how much farther to reach any of them but decided that this temple entry point is a good time for a snack. I’ll need the energy to run down the mountain to the train station!
I hear my timer go off. I have an hour and a half to reach the bus. I pack up and start back tracking. There’s time for a couple quick photos to show the trail.
I run into a couple I passed up the stairs earlier. They ask if I’ve been to the top. No luck! They were disappointed as I’m sure they had enough of stairs. I keep going, half running through the flat sections. The gate is in sight…! But before rushing down the stairs like Cinderella at the ball, I get a shot of a tired teen waiting for his friends on the lion statue.
The stairs are faster to walk down but still require a lot of focus. If only there were hand rails. I stop to use the bathroom figuring it will be better than the bus stop plus I don’t know if there will be time. I’l get on the road, trying to alternate between walking and jogging. There’s an older man also in a rush. He’s using the same technique.
I reach the main road and the bus stop is not much farther. I have time so I stop for a mango ice pop. So good! I can’t believe I covered more ground in less time! Going downhill really helps.
I spy a new bus and hope it’s the one I need. There’s some really worn old ones here too with the same characters. Luckily the bus is pretty good and I’m off to Lijiang!
The bus ride is uneventful and it starts to rain when I arrive in Lijiang. There’s no rainbow in China. I find my way to the hostel with it’s hidden parking lot entrance.
The receptionist speaks a little English. Even when I show her the map from the hostel of the hiking area, there’s no response. Ugh. No help here to get to the Tiger Leaping Gorge hike.
I get what might be my worst meal in China and then try to find another hostel for help. I can’t seem to find the entrance for it and decide to stock up on snacks for the hike. I know there’s a bus and the rest will just work out.
I’m packed and ready to go. My roommates once again don’t understand how I can travel to China alone without language skills. Do they not know the Internet?