Yu Long Snow Mountain
Yu is Jade and Long is Dragon - hence it is also known as Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Mike told us as we had a long chat while sipping the Yunnan coffee at the little cafe nearby our hotel. He went there the day earlier, and told us his experience and gave some tips, especially on overcoming the possible altitude sickness. well...get the oxygen canister, and start to breath with it before you ride the cable car. the theory was - to allow the 'extra' oxygen to circulate in your blood as early as it can.
- Snow Peak
- Lijiang Impression
- Yak Meadow
the last part of the itinerary was the one that held back our decision till wee hours as most of the tours didn't include it as part of their itinerary. River told us, it was normally foreign tourists that opted to visit Yak Meadow. we finalized our plan with him the night before and he told me our driver would come to pick us up around 7am.
Chen, the name of our driver. he spoke and understand few phrases of english,but River ensure us it'd be no trouble for us to get through the day. he already explained everything to him and we had his number if there's communication breakdown.
the day started early and we left the hotel as per plan, strolling along the Wu Yi street and headed to the north gate of the old town to reach our transport. i asked Chen to allow me to sit at the front passenger seat and he gave a nod. anyway, i read in Lonely Planet forum that you can try to take the blue van with number 60 if not mistaken, that normally wait at the square near the Mao Zedong statue to go to the national park. it might cost cheaper as we were paying RMB300 for the driver and van rental. of course the advantage would clearly be, we could set the pace of the trip to our taste.
after 20 minutes of ride, we finally arrived at the main entrance of Yu Long Snow Mountain National Park. we paid the entrance fee of RM80 per person, if i've not mistaken, to the officer and continued our journey. it seemed like everybody wanted to be the early-bird as we had to wait for a while, and saw few tourist's buses entering the park at this early time of the day. River was right, regardless the timing, it'd always be a busy day at the park, because it is a major attraction in Lijiang. plus, it was a long weekend there.
we could see the massif clearly as we left the gate. it awed me as this breathtaking nature wonder is actually as small-mountain range (with Haba Snow Mountain on the other side), that separated from the himalaya. well...it is still part of himalaya, as the park and Lijiang itself is actually resides as 3000m above sea level altitude, if i've not mistaken.
despite the language barrier, Chen was very kind and attentive. even at one point when our sign language made each of us lost in translation, Chen tried to find the solution, and he even managed to get a help from a local lady that was able to speak english. we bought a big size oxygen canister which cost us RMB100, if i've not mistaken, as we were worried about the altitude sickness. TI was more worried as he had bad experience when we were in Shang-rila few days before and started to breath using it while we were queuing for the eco-bus to the cable car station.
anyway the cost for the eco-bus is RMB20, which allow us to ride to any of the destination within the park, and the cable car ride to the glacier park cost us RMB180 per person. yeap...damn expensive. as we left the ticket counter, after bought our oxygen canister and ready to queue, i had a long sigh as seeing the line was already that long. it was mainly because of the tour groups that arrived at the same time as us. some of them were provided with down-jackets of same colour etc.
Chen grab our hand and walked us straight to the officers that dressed like a S.W.A.T army that guarded the entrance to the queue. he mumble something, and i took it as telling them we were not with the tour group and could be excuse from waiting etc. and guess what..yes..we were allowed to enter to queue. Chen even joined us for the queue.
it took us almost 30 minutes to reach to our bus, as the queue was actually longer that i thought. i mean after the clearance given by the officer, we thought we'd go straight away to the bus, but apparently the queue was actually continued further within the building of the park centre.
it was another short ride, around 15 minutes from the park centre to the cable car station that sat at 3500m altitude. and i was again stunned to see the queue. it was that long...as we were beaten by the earlier early-birds. huhuhu. Chen gave us a sign that he'd wait at the station and required us to get back to the station around 1030am if we wanted to catch the 11am show. we nodded and then joined the queue.
we finally arrived at the peak-station which is at 4506m a.s.l and went straight away to the glacier park. again, i was awed with the view, not only because of the place itself such a wonder, but seeing the crowd there. people was like everywhere on the path where they could stand. LOL! yeap. it felt too commercialized...but then so did the Swiss Alps...aite?
There was another few hundred metres hike via the wooden path and platform, built for the visitors to get to the highest platform at 4608m. Me and TI started to hike the path as we done taking picture around the peak-station. it was too crowded, and we felt like going further up would bring us away from the crowd.
It was quite a challenge, as I could feel the thin air gave me hard time to hike faster, and even TI finally decided to settle himself halfway of the hike and gave himself a rest. I walked/hiked alone this time, pacing my step carefully and sequenced it with persistent breathing, to keep focus. the oxygen canister was not with me, and i had to bear any consequences alone onwards. i took a look down and saw the glacier park from above, it was beautiful, indeed!
i finally arrived at the last part of the stairs that i need to hike. it wasn't that crowded, and it was for obvious reason. my pace became slower. the thin air really gave me a pang as i continued my hike, slowly and finally arrived at the highest platform. i was at 4680m height! and it was the highest place i'd ever been! voila...
the peaks of the majestic mountain felt so close, and the moment really took my breath away. there was even a kiosk that selling the medal for those who managed to arrive the 4680m platform, but off course, i just passed.
i was there for a while, memo-graphing the moment and then slowly walked down the stairs. 10am, and it was time to leave actually or else we would be late for the show. i met TI that waited me, and then continued walked to the station. we took cable car and then arrived at the station. Chen saw us and gave a wave, while pointing at the watch. yes...we had to move.
a short ride with the eco-bus, down to the centre again, and then we were greeted by a lady that helped to buy the Lijiang Impression show tickets for us. it cost us RMB190 per person. Chen and the lady told us it was time to go in as the show would be started in a bit. we saw crowd started to enter the theatre.