The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Concerning Mountain Ponies

I saw The Hobbit again over the weekend. Just as good on a second viewing. The treks through caves, mountain cliffsides and goblin towns really strike a chord with me. My trek through Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan, China was the longest, most treacherous, and only two-day walk through the mountains that I have ever endured. Hiking above the Yellow Sands River, which later becomes the Yangtze, my brother and I passed through Naxi villages in hanging valleys along the ancient Tea Horse Trail. The first day we were caught in a storm and the wind howled fiercely through the teeth of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. After a night in a cliffside tavern we continued our trek through waterfalls cascading across the mountain path. As we turned a corner a train of ponies saddled with bags appeared in a bend of the trail ahead. The path followed a cliff that fell thousands of feet to the gorge below. The way was only big enough to walk single file, so I hugged the rocks as the ponies stumbled passed. I looked into the eyes of the last as he came close, wondering what he would think if he knocked me off the mountain to my death in the gorge below. Would he feel any responsibility or remorse? As he passed me, his rump knocked me against the rock face and his hoof stepped on my sore feet. His stomach groaned and then grumbled into a loud fart just below my head. I looked back at him and his burdened comrades as they turned the corner and out of sight, but he did not look back at me.

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