China Trip May~June 2013

June 5

Breakfast at the chalet is heavy on fried starch, the dining area is also the family kitchen, we eat with them. It’s very homey. Bruce has booked a taxi for me today to go to the mountain. After a pit stop in the town proper to pick up water and lunch we start north. The plain is flat with a very gentle rise, to our left magnificent views of this mountain range. Eight km brings us to the park entrance, I pay the fee. Then a short drive and we’re parked, I have no idea what happens now. My confusion is evident, the driver pulls out his cell and we use Bruce as our intermediary. I’m to buy tickets somewhere then buses will take me onward. No matter. I’m already enthralled. Huge patches of Roscoea xxx are at their peak of flower, coming up in the grass along the walkway, mostly purple with a smattering of yellow. I’m down on my knees. Coming up around them, Arisaema xxx. Ligularia xxx is new to me, a local endemic, it’s wonderful, the leaves have a heavy silver indument on the bottom. It’s a weed bordering the parking lot, I assume the yak don’t eat them. I think my driver is now giving me the eye, so I plunge along the pathway, eventually coming to the ticket booths. These are apart from the central rotunda. There appear to be 3 areas to go to, I’m unable to ask which might suit me best so I pick the closest, a tram up to the southernmost glacier in the northern hemisphere. Them back to the central rotunda, I wait for a while in the area with an English sign that states, ‘ Wait Here’ , slowly concluding that this is not the bus pickup area. A walk through the rotunda brings me to the lineups that are obviously for the buses. This time the drive climbs rapidly, at breakneck speed we whizz past deciduous forests whose flowering understory consists of what I think was Rhodoendron yunnanense and R. decorum. At 3100 m we’re deposited at the lift entrance, several buildings with all manner of merchandising happening. The day is clear, the tram pulls us in one go to the foot of the glacier at 4600 m. Below me I can clearly see a trail, several locals are hiking up the mountain obviously harvesting something. We sail past several fields of a prostrate Rhododendron with enormous white flowers, perhaps xxxxx. It clings to very steep scree. I’d much rather be down there. Only the very earliest of plants are beginning to leaf out at the terminus, there are a couple small flat Anthopogon type rRhododendrons not yet breaking. Then up a km of steps, looking back from the top there’s a continual snake of people, like some great march. The glacier is a stones throw from the viewing platform, pristine white, unlike so many of the muddy ones I’ve seen. I have noodles on my return, then elude security and hoof into the woods. As has been the case throughout the trip, I have no clue when the last bus run happens or how long the taxi driver will wait. Even my short exploration reveals a host of great things. Perhaps the best is a colony of heavily patterned Arisama.

June 6

Quan China
Days of rain. Hours stuck in road repairs. Bleeding leech bites. Rats scrambling about your hut. Dishonest guides. Food of questionable origin. Nasty privies. Dangerous bridges. Lost. Food poisoning. I’ve seen a lot of talks on botanical expeditions through China, all feature of significant subset of these discomforts, a few manage to work in all and more. I had hit every temperate Asian country I could, each with its own brilliant flora and culture. But each was an excuse for where I really wanted to go, western China. But a tour group didn’t seem my style, being handheld removes so much of the adventure, the sense of discovery. But from what I had seen, it seemed the only safe solution. The problem was, I like to travel at mine own pace, poke about, I’m an independent sort.m China has long been at the top of my destination list, avoided only because every talk I had ever seen on travel through Yunnan focused on difficult travel trough atrocious conditions, requiring guides , drivers and leech repellant. But my partner had decided to visit his parents in the northern city of Chenyang after 3 years absence, it seemed as good as an excuse as any, I would go to Yunnan and we would meet midway through . I would have to join one of the botanical tour groups that go I would go to yunnan, we would meet there midway through the trip
I assume

June 7

village taxi north of shuhe😘
Today Bruce has booked another day taxi. Quan has taught me the phrase for ‘stop the Taxi’ and it’s been explained to the driver that I will to all appearances randomly scream out this phrase during our drive to Xxx, a village on the leeward side of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. I’m told the lifts of 2 days prior were sited on the opposite side of the mountain after the people here had lustily objected to the potential for that development to ruin their view. There is also a horticultural research station, partnered with Kew, along this route.
June 8

bicycle rain

June 9

fly to chengdu hot pot

Du Fu (Wade-Giles: Tu Fu; Chinese: 杜甫; pinyin: Dù Fǔ; 712 – 770) was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty. Along with Li Bai (Li Bo), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets.[1] His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and his last 15 years were a time of almost constant unrest.
Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage (Chinese: 杜甫草堂; pinyin: Dù Fǔ Cǎo Táng) is a 24-acre (97,000 m2) park and museum in honour of the Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu at the western outskirts of Chengdu, adjacent to the Huanhua Xi, (Flower Rinsing Creek). In 1961 the Chinese government established Du Fu Cao Tang as a National Heritage site.
June 10

chengdu botanic gardens
June 13, 2013
Chengdu to vancouver

arrives 😍