Woo hoo, I arrived to Lijiang! I had to wake up at 3:30 AM to catch a train from Dali to Lijiang that was leaving at 5 AM – when I was booking my train tickets, I didn’t realize that the train station in Dali is in the New Town, but my hostel was in the Old Town. And the only way how to get there that early in the morning was to hire a driver (70 RMB, train ticket to Dali was 50 RMB hmmmmm), because first bus starts around 6 AM and public taxis don’t go through the Old Town very often. I managed to do that at the reception and the hostel “owner” took me to the station in his car.
So after 2 hours I got to Lijiang and hurried to catch a cab that would take me to the GaoKuai bus station (Lijiang Passenger Transport Service Bus Station btw. 😅). It took us around 1h with very little traffic, for 30 RMB. There are two options how to get to Deqin:
- There is a direct bus Lijiang-Deqin that leaves around 8 AM (or maybe 8:30, I don’t remember anymore). The problem is, that it seems like this bus is sold out way ahead, so when I arrived there before 8, there were no tickets left.
- You can take a bus Lijiang-Shangrila and then another bus Shangrila-Deqin. This time I got lucky and there were still some seats available, so I set off to Shangrila around 8:20 AM, 63 RMB. Official length of the ride is 3,5h but it took us more than 4h, so be prepared.
When I was boarding my bus, I noticed some oxygen bottles at the station and it freaked me out a bit! I knew that we will travel from around 2000 meters to around 3000 but really? Bottled oxygen? Is it gonna be that bad? I hoped not.
The bus was totally packed. We’ve also stopped at another station in Lijiang (I don’t know the name) and waited there for about 15mins for others to board. It was raining all day, high humidity, so the windows were fogged up and with all that smelly Chinese on board there was no fresh air (air con didn’t work, it was still spring, duh!). So maybe this is what the bottles were for!
We stopped only once for a short cigarette break during our ride. It was at a local toilet (1 RMB for basically a hole in a ground) slash fruit market. I bought some apricots 🙂 Unfortunately, I didn’t see much from the nature around me and when we were arriving Shangrila, I was a bit disappointed. It didn’t seem like a very spiritual place with mystique atmosphere that I thought it would have (my hopes were really high after reading Lost Horizon by James Hilton). To me it seemed like a regular Chinese city nestled between fields with yaks and not so spectacular mountains.
When we arrived to the Shangrila Bus Station, I immediately bought ticket to Deqin (they still had free seats!). I was so nervous that I wouldn’t make it, that I would have to stay in Shangrila for one day and then lose some precious time in Deqin (because this is where the Himalayas are, not in Shangrila) and wouldn’t have time to visit all the places that I wanted to see. But! The whole universe conspired in helping me to achieve it (as Paulo Coelho would say) and that made me really happy😊.
I noticed 2 foreign girls that were waiting for a bus as well and was wondering where are they going. As it turned out, they were going to Deqin as well 🙂 So we started to talk a bit during a stop on our was to Deqin and realized we want to do the same trek (again, universe obviously conspired, because I was freaked out that I would have to do the 3 day trek to Yubeng village alone).
Once we stopped on the highest point of our ride, which was around 4300m high I think and the view that stretched out before us was breathtaking (only metaphorically, luckily I didn’t feel any symptoms of altitude sickness😁)
We arrived after 4,5h and then we caught a mini van to Feilai Si (starting point of the trek), accommodated in a local Youth Hostel and went out to watch the sunset over Meili mountain. I haven’t seen anything like this before, it was pure beauty.
And first selfie with my new travel companions😅 (Selfie stick just rulezzz!)
It was really cold in Feilai and the hostel didn’t posses any heating system whatsoever (nor hot water, well what do you want for 10 RMB per night😆) so thank God they had heating blankets! With temperature set to maximum I was able to sleep almost like a baby that night.