8:30 am: boarded the buses to visit Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the most scenic and telling sites concerning water in Yunnan province. 2 hours till our destination. As the closest parts of the city became increasingly modern, the traditional buildings that remained, broken-down and open for lease, created a sharp contrast. And soon, buildings and roads gave way to construction sites and dirt roads still to be paved, and gradually, all traces of civilization faded away to woodlands.
9:45 am: stopped at a rest stop at a bend of the Yangtze river. From there, we got our first real view of the river and saw firsthand the orange-red hue of the water.
11:00 am: arrived at the Gorge. Excited, we all set out on the hour long hike not really sure what to expect. As we kept walking alongside the river, we were gradually all blown away by the size and grandeur of the Gorge. And yet to many of us, I’m sure, the unclean color of the river contrasted painfully with the beauty of the surrounding Gorge.
12:15 pm: reached the end of the Gorge. As we headed down from the path, clear water from the mountains trickled down on our left. Yet, as the water passed beneath whatever bridge we were on, the water joined the river and turned bright orange red. What was even more frightening, however, was how much trash there was in the river itself. Bottles, plastic, and even someone’s backpack littered where the stream from the mountains met with the main river itself.
1:15 pm: we arrived back at the entrance. Set off for Shigu village, an important village in Chinese history in the Yunnan province.
2:24 pm: almost died. The roads to the village changed from the newly constructed highways to unpaved dirt ones. Due to this fact, the trip to the village was quite exciting; the many potholes and unevenness on the road made us appreciate our skilled drivers even more. I’d be lying if I said that our ride in the vehicle didn’t remind me of some rollercoasters I’d been on before.
3:00 pm: reached Shigu Village. While there, we had a pretty good lunch and then we were all given some free time to either relax by the river or explore the village. Some groups took this time to just take a break from the hustle and bustle of the day while others made the trek up to the monument marking the historical significance of the village.
4:20 pm: left for hotel.
5:30 pm: arrived back at hotel. Most pods dispersed to finish their videos and relax after a long day.
6:30 pm: my group left for the old town of Lijiang for dinner and to explore.
9:30 pm: arrived back at the hotel. When my group got back, we ran into a group of locals teaching and showcasing some traditional Naxi dances. Shamelessly, most of my group joined in and after a few confused moments, were able to catch on really quickly. Honestly, this was one of my favorite moments of the trip mainly because of the personal connection that I was able to feel to the Naxi people, no matter how superficial learning this local dance may have been. It was truly quite powerful.
10:00 pm: Sleep (or so we pretend).