Exploring Yunnan...........Part 3
Based on narrative about the adventure by Andrew
JADE DRAGON NATIONAL PARK AND BLUE MOON VALLEY
After spending three days in Lijiang, I met a college student who was staying in a hostel in Shangri La county. He assured me about the reliability of the public transport and I decided to take a bus journey through the enchanted land. I reread the renowned “Lost Horizon” by James Hilton, which is mostly based on Joseph Rock’s adventures in western China in the first half of 20th century, but what I was experiencing was heavenly bliss, which reading of a book cannot give. It’s hard to explain like the exhilaration of the first kiss whose memory stays afresh with one for the rest of the life. Looking out of the window, I was tempted once again by the already familiar Jade Dragon National Park
and then by the thoughts of the Tiger leaping gorge on the upstream of Yangtze River clamped by Haba Snow Mountain to the north and Jade Dragon to the south.
Mighty bend of Yangtze River before it narrows itself into Tiger Leaping Gorge，captured in 2013
A small township called Shigu which belongs to Lijiang and precisely faces the bend. If you climb higher, you get a better view. This was taken at its worst season, too much water in summertime and not that picturesque blue with scattered fjords.
All memories of my previous two journeys of northwestern Yunnan kept pouring in like a movie running at the back of my mind. In 2013, I went on a hike with my colleagues to Tiger Leaping Gorge, said to have been named after a tiger escaping huntsmen chase and leapt over to the other side of the gorge at the narrowest point. Sometimes I think that the name is a metaphor for the person who can try such a dare. Frankly speaking, no man can jump across the gorge except in his imagination but one needs to have a lion’s heart even for going there. From the hillside village road down to the riverside, it took us approximately 3 hours of the total 2 or 3 days’ hike for a round-trip for the quintessence of fear and elation. With 10RMB fee of one of the hiking routes, all built and owned by local farmers, we stepped down with the ease of seasoned hikers,
walking merrily through a spacious walnut grove, in spite of a little rain and slippery stones. The mood was gay and joyous until we saw the Heaven’s Ladder. All our laughter froze at the sight of it. The option was to choose between this or a circuitous, winding, treacherous path climbing down endlessly, but was safer and longer.
But the challenge was daunting and the risk high, for nature can be very unforgiving and one misstep can be fatal. It is very different and perhaps exhilarating when you see men in the Ads. Like “Dar kea aage jeet hai’ (Victory lies next to fear) shown perform daring feats (the reference is to the advertisement of a soft drinks named Mountain Dew shown on Indian TVs, where men are shown performing impossible feats) but in reality all mountains ‘command their due’ respect and perhaps in show of reverence our ancestors built temples on top of the mountains. To me they convey a message that “ No matter, how high I reach, HE will always be above me, or that “ I have reached this high because YOU are above me, so let me bow down to thee.”
Kedarnath Temple- Uttranchal, India
Accepting challenges is man’s nature and so we did. The sheer thrill of it was overpowering, yet there was a lingering apprehension that choosing this exciting path may not turn out to be via-dolorosa but we put all our fears at the back of our minds and went ahead with our plans.
We chose the Heaven’s Ladder, seeing it as a ladder to heaven and at times, it occurred to us that it would prove true to its name. Countless ladder steps, all wet and steep literally seemed to be there to take us to a journey to the God’s abode, but I swear the gethsemane was all worth it. It was literally “Darr ke aagey jeet hai” kind of experience. We were trembling uncontrollably when we reached the edge of the rock from where the legendry tiger is said to have jumped over to the other side. Deafening noise caused by tons of water gushing through the narrowest section, invoked tons of fear too.