Lu Gu Hu and the extremity of Lige village most of which is heavy, partially completed development for anticipated tourism
âGrooooooan!â. Itâs 11.30am already. I must âa been rolling sides to side in mâbed for a good 4 hours already. Sick as parrot. Sick as a dog. Sick as a backpacker who sunk 400mls of local firewater inadvisably last night. I havenât been this hung over since forever! Seriously. What the frick am I gonna be doinâ with myself today?! Probably not an awful lot. âGroooooan!â. Logistics logisitics logistics. Aaaalways more logistics to be thunk about. No rest for the wicked, the world-wandering or the drunk.
Iâm in Lige. Good. I can remember where I am. On the shores of beautiful Lake Lu Gu. I recall a practicalities conversation with âVivienneâ the lovely, helpful reception gal here at the âMemory of Marchâ YHA.
F**k yeah, I remember now. A troubling fact exhumed from the tattered wreck of my mind. Thereâs no public transportation around Lu Gu Hu. Absolutely none apparently. This means only private mini-van hire to Lu Gu Hu Town for your onward connections. 100RMB ($14.70) a pop. F**k that. Better if thereâs more of you of course. But Iâm alone. And hung-over. Badly
hung over! But itâs decision time againâŚ
âŚ well, serious scenic hiking as per original desires is outta the question owing to half the day having already been spent comatose in bed and the fact that Iâm in no fit state for such exertions. Farewell âLionâ Mountain plans. I carefully consume a âgreen pepper omeletteâ and Coke and âVivâ spiels out my all too few options for moving on.
Itâs wise, and I agree, in order to save haemorrhaging too many days of my itinerary to crack on from Lu Gu Hu and get a connection to Xicheng asap. But that means getting to Lu Gu Hu Town. That 100 RMB smack-in-the-wallet. F**k that. No way Jose!
I may have a less perceptible pulse than certain graveyard occupants today and have to focus about 87% of my remaining (not many) mental faculties on not vomiting but I will get to that town on the cheap if it kills meâŚ which means hiking itâŚ 12 kilometres with a 70 litre back on my back and a 15 litre day bag tooâŚ in 35 degreesâŚ with a hangoverâŚ meaning it will
actually kill me. âLetâs do it people!â.
Did I mention Iâm in no fit state for any such exertions already?
âVivâ offers suitably sympathetic farewells as I slowly lurch out of doors.
Joy gets China-bong-tastic to kill the time.
To cut a good hour or two off the start of the walk I struggle up a dirt slope, far side of Lige to meet the solitary road that rings Lu Gu Hu. Itâs hard going. Hot going. Sweaty going. The minute thereâs even the slightest incline muscles, back, shoulders and the will to keep moving all start packing in. A horse stood in my way gives me a âWhat the flippinâ heck are you doinâ mate?!!â
look as I totter and sway past it. One step. Two step. Just one more step. Step. Drag. Drag. Step. F**k! This is a bad idea. A dumb idea. Trawling myself up the dusty slope, 17 kilos of sh*t on my back allowing my feet no traction or legs any semblance of balance at all. Martyring myself for ten flippinâ quid.
Bus on hold.
What a dolt! I reach the road. Flatness. âPhewf!â.
Well thatâs half a kilometre done and still no need to get a visa for the Afterlife. Water. Walk. Not too far and I round a bend, a wooden viewing platform Iâd espied from Lige last night sits to one side. Beautiful expansive views of Lu Gu Hu blueâŚ and two girls. Two girls in shades sat with bags in the sun. Waiting? Why? What for? Heck I need a break anyways. Take a break. Ma-a-an Iâm hung-over. âHi guys!â.
My cliff top companions are Joy and May from Guangzhou and Taiwan respectively. Pretty both. Very good English both.
Joy & Lu Gu Hu.
Iâm in luck! âSo where you heading?â. âXicheng and then Chengduâ. âCool, me too, gotta get to Lu Gu Hu Town right?â. âWell, hopefully we should have a coach pick us up anytime now to take us to Xichengâ.
Coach? Right here?! Soon? Direct to Xicheng?!
Am I dreaming? No Iâm not. Winding its way along the far shore as we speak a coach is fast approaching. âDo you have a ticket?â. âNah way man, I havenât got a clue what Iâm doinââ.
But I do now people. Iâm getting on that coach, paying whatever they want and getting to Xicheng come hell or high water. Wild horses wonât prevent me. They can strap me to the mud-flaps if they want, whatever, as long they save me from this personal Hell Iâve inflicted upon myself today! And so it is. Joy flashes her leg jokingly, May waves about. The coach slides to a halt. Theyâre in a rush for some reason and as we dash towards it the guy just takes my bag, throws it in the storage and ushers me right onboard. No questions asked. No ticket demanded. Which is lucky âcos the coach is chock full. I have been well and truly saved!
And then barely 1 kilometre later everything grinds to a halt. A big halt. The only road around Lu Gu Lake is undergoing extensive resurfacing and we are stuck, first in line, behind a police barrier until 17.
Waiting to roll 1
00pm whilst the tarmacâs laid and sets in the baking sun. 4 and a half hours of idle sweating but frankly, reminiscing about how my day was panning out previously, I couldnât give a flyinâ monkeyâs butt as one way or tâother Iâm on my way and no longer walking. Perfectly happy to sit and mooch and stroll around getting to know May and Joy. Seriously cool gals! The view of Lu Gu Lakeâs blue, zephyr tussled perfection never ceases to sooth soul and eyes.
The gang are begging me to try and concoct some hokey story to try to communicate to the cops guarding the barrier here : âTheyâll listen to you. Weâre Chinese. They couldnât give a sh*t about usâŚ but you, youâre a foreigner. A visitor. They donât wanna make a bad impression.
If you say something like âIâve got a flight from Chengdu tonight and Iâm gonna miss it if this bus donât get through NOW!â they might listen to you and let us through!!â. So let me get this right. Iâm on a bus for which I donât have a ticket and you want me to lie to the Chinese authorities about a flight that I also donât have a ticket forâŚ um?âŚ because of the fact it doesnât exist? Not gonna happen ladies! I donât care how cute yâall are. Besides, a short walk by Joy and I reveals that the road is physically impassable anyway.
Waiting to roll 2
17.00 eventually rolls around and we roll on although falteringly. This frickinâ bus seems to stop for often indiscernible reasons every frickinâ 15 minutes or so.
May & Joy, my travel companions from Lu Gu Hu through 2 days to Chengdu.
Itâs okay! Iâm allowed to adopt a tone of impatient moral indignation now having handed over my 95RMB for my ticket to Xicheng. A place we will now be arriving extremely late to! There are several moments of commotion and collective frustration on the much delayed bus ride. Iâm on the back rowâŚ a kafuffle up frontâŚ raised voices. Anger. My name cried out by Joy from the melee up front âSTEVE!â.
Sh*t they want me off the bus?!? âWHAT?!â. âOh, nothing.â.
Blimey. Didnât sound
like ânothingâ. Either way âPhewf!â.
Still on board and on route to Xicheng.
May & Joy and shonky boat :)
Itâs after dark now. Still a long way to go. Headlights on full beam. A long and winding road through the magnificent, but now slightly intimidating mountain, hill, valley and river scenery. Pretty manic driving from the driver of this very late coach. Screeching. Swerving. On one or two occasions too many dangerous sudden break-smoking halts for cows, goats, pedestrians and cars. It would not take much for to see us through the tiny, roadside concrete blocks and over into a ravine. Road-traffic safety placebos. Nothing more. This is turning into one of my least favourite coach rides of all time. I constantly recall the humorous roadside warning signs I had witnessed a number of times yesterday as the bus had descended the snaking road to Lu Gu Hu shore which warned trekkers in a bright yellow triangle âAnxious Torturous Path!â.
Bus Boredom Portrait
This journey is an âAnxious Torturous Pathâ. Still, my hangoverâs finally gone. Frightened into sobriety!
Mostly I am grateful for a cloudless night and the light of a bright full moon. In some foolish way I think this lessens our chance of accident by virtue of greater illumination of the way ahead. The way below. It sheds eerie light on the mountain scenery mentioned. Hills roll by and besides and above us. Gigantic black masses. Sky clawing dark silhouettes made firmer, more imposing in the moonlight. This light, playing softly down their flanks, gives these geologic monsters of the night vague forms for the imagination to play with. The appearance of slumbering giants with bed sheets drawn tightly over their horizontal bodies.
Xicheng garden (abstract)
If they were to roll over in their sleep they would crush us surely.
We get to Xicheng finally at just gone 2.00am. Itâs been a long dayâŚ even though mine only started at 11.30. Just glad to have made it here in one piece. And curiously enough Iâm now slightly ahead of my anticipated schedule at this time. The girls and I check into the first hotel that presents itselfâŚ rather, that is presented to us I should say. I struggle to sleep with the heat, strange bathroom tiles of beautiful naked Chinese women and mosquitoes for company. Chengdu finally tomorrow!