The taxi driver tells us that Snow Mountain is nicer than Napa Hai (Lake) this time of year. He also says it costs 200 RMB entrance. We insist on Napa Lake. After stopping at a pony launch and paying 60 RMB entrance, we drive to a briar patch. The driver points across the plain. Napa Lake is behind that yellow mountain, he says. We set off, and I wonder if my friends are up to the fifteen minutes it might take us to walk to the lake. They have warned me that they don’t like to hike and earlier explained that at high altitude, even talking is healthy exercise.
Two hours later, we are navigating a pack of yaks, following the trajectories of Tibetan pony trekkers in hopes of locating the route to this elusive lake.
Three hours later, the pony trekkers have lapped us. I would like to laugh, but my lips are cracked closed. The water bottle I almost left behind is empty, and I am beginning to have my doubts.
Not that I mind picking my way around wild pig wallow holes on a grassy plain whose mountain crown looks just like Colorado. Not at all! This is my holiday. But I’m the one who suggested Napa Hai, and my Cantonese firends (who, at the outset, cranked American music from their iPods ‘for atmosphere’) are looking a little glum.
Soon we find ourselves bounded by creeks too wide to cross, and we have no choice but to turn back. We cross the path of another pony trekker and point to our entrance tickets.
“Where is Napa Lake??”
Animated conversation ensues and five minutes later, they translate: “This is Napa Lake. We are walking on Napa Lake. It is the dry season.” Oh, my!
“I am disappointed,” she adds.
We turn back. Walking has made us illogical, so we take seeral wrong turns before finding the right road. At some point the girls start playing Name That Song, courteously using American music. I am all over Aaron Carter’s Beautiful Soul.
Dinner is expensive. We stop at literally the first restaurant we see, and it is good. Even better than my vegetarian Korean fried egg on rice is having fond a reliable supplier of chocolate shake and french fries. In case it ever comes to that.
The girls eat their french fries with chopsticks.