Tea Horse Chronicles - The Bend
It was here at the ‘first bend of the Yangtze’, at Shigu, in Yunnan province that the Mongolian armies of the Yuan Dynasty crossed the great waterway and would ‘take’ the previously independent region into the greater fold of the Middle Kingdom 中国 (China).
This was also a key stopping point along the Tea Horse Road where our team would pass through. Wandering through an area of rough overgrown foliage just west of the village of Shigu, we would (with the help of locals) come upon a small grave site with old headstones which were engraved with various designs of the horse. Tiny and inconsequential, it was as if the site had been forgotten except by the mosses and the foliage that had reclaimed the space. These, we were told, were what was left of a small collection of muleteers and tea traders who had passed away at or near this point upon the trade route over the course of years. A final place of rest with a stunning view for a few who could go no further and whose homes and relatives were distant. Looking ‘up’ the Yangtze we could just begin to make out the snow peaks that marked the unofficial gateway into the Himalayas. As a aside, none of the teas we sipped in this region gave any satisfaction, except for a rippingly pungent bit of Puerh we had with us.