This note was written by Devin Corrigan, a WildChina tour leader & travel consultant who recently traveled to Mount Haba on an educational trip.
I spent last week in northern Yunnan surveying trekking routes that extend beyond Tiger Leaping Gorge, eventually working my way to the top of Haba Snow Mountain. After four straight days of strenuous hikes, I arrived in Haba Village, which is situated lower down on the mountain at an altitude of about 2,600 meters. I was about as ready as one can be for a shower, a bowl of hot noodles, and respite for some seriously sore quads. It did not all go according to plan, however, and this situation set me up perfectly to re-learn a lesson that I often re-learn while working in the field: it rarely hurts to go with the flow.
When I walked into the guesthouse I had lodged at earlier that week, the always-smiling proprietor greeted me warmly. “Welcome back!” she said. “You’re just in time. There’s a market down the street; people are in town from all around the county. Go have a look, and when you come back I’ll get you some food.”
I will admit here that for a split second…I paused. I asked some questions about the market. Will it be going on all afternoon? No, only for another hour. How often does it happen? Once every two weeks or so.
I had to go, dead legs or no. As I dumped everything but my camera, I averted my eyes from the couch, tried to ignore the smells coming from the kitchen. A few seconds later, I was back outside. Just down the road, a kaleidoscope of traditional dress styles was on display, as vendors and buyers representing the Naxi, Hui, Yi, and Han ethnicities crowded the stalls on either side of a wide alley. I moved slowly past the large strips of pork fat, cheap belts and shoes, lotions and balms for various maladies, burlap sacks full of tea, roots, and vegetables, and baskets teeming with brightly colored pieces of candy. Several elderly villagers, hands clasped behind their backs, offered gummy smiles or a nod.
The sun shone ecstatically through the trees (as it always seems to in these parts), and the snowy summit of the mountain I had just climbed towered nearly 2,800 meters above us. It was all spectacular, and the noodles could wait.
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