New Friends 

My alarm goes off at dawn. I’m packed and ready. Only one problem– the hostel is locked till 7:30! Ugh. I woke up early for nothing plus it leaves no time for breakfast. 
Finally, it’s open and there’s a different receptionist. He speaks English and I ask about the bus. He tells me about the tourist bus which I don’t want. I read there’s a public bus for half the price. I leave my backpack with him. 
On my way to the bus station I see a guy selling buns and I take a chance. One pork and the other one mushroom. At the bus station I show where I want to go and end up on the tourist bus. Oh well. I eat my buns. As the bus leaves Lijiang, I spot these goats.   
We arrive in Qiaotou. There’s a couple of westerners here and in the ticket office I ask a woman (who was also on the same bus) if she would like to walk together. She agrees. She’s from France and is in the middle of an around the world trip.   
We stop at a questionable but busy toilets so she can change into more comfortable hiking clothes. We walk along the road, following signs that will take us to the start of the trail. It’s a steady uphill climb all day. Not my favorite but you can see your progress as view changes.  

 A man with a donkey follows us, waiting like a vulture, for resolve to crumble and pay for the ride up. He tells us that the trail keeps winding up. Dodging donkey shit makes it worse.   
We rest at a nice viewing area. I drink my favorite, ice tea, as a treat. We meet a young couple from Hong Kong and share snacks. We begin walking together.  

  

 There’s a pair of shirtless Spaniard men who walk pass us with ease.  (Sorry no photo.)       
We stop again to drink and take photos with the gorgeous scenery. Another group appears for photos as well and we all end up walking together.  

it’s China, there’s always someone selling something
 There’s a guy from England, who’s teaching English in China and has some survival language skills. A fellow American also traveling around Asia but has spent the past year teaching English in Thailand. There’s a theme here clearly. The third person is Belgian on a sabbatical from work. It’s a cozy group.   
We stop for the best meal of the trip at Naxi Family Guesthouse. I only got a photo for the first half of the meal. More dishes appeared but there wasn’t the time for photos. Eggplant is always good. Also chicken and other vegetables too. This ends up being my favorite meal on the hike. 
The Hong Kong couple decided to end the day there. They spent last night on an eight hour train ride from Kunming with standing tickets. I wish that on no one. We continued on hoping to reach the Halfway Guesthouse. 

  
We didn’t get that far when the weather started to change. We stopped at a stand selling snacks and drinks to prepared ourselves for the rain. I quickly shoved my extra clothes and valuables into a plastic bag for protection. It started to rain and we waited it out. It didn’t last long and the rain never started up again.       
Mud, shit and rocks mixed together. It wasn’t that bad but we were slow to walk up hill. Are we on the twenty eight bends? No luck, it was just getting started. Ugh.  

  

 We focused on moving forward and caught up with another group (family?). 
We arrive at the next place– Tea-Horse Trade Guesthouse .  

 There’s still another hour or two to hike to the Halfway Guesthouse and it’s getting dark. We want to move forward but the trail is questionable. Is it still going uphill and is it rocky?       
We stay and eat dinner. More photos of course. Today is the Mid Autumn Festival. There’s nothing fancy other than to bask in the glow of the full moon.    

   

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