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Outside the chateau

Outside the chateau

A 6 km hike along the Tiger Leaping Gorge brings you to Chateau de Woody in Walnut Grove. The hiking was quite relaxed (our guide wore plastic shower slippers) and we arrived at Walnut Grove in the early afternoon. The chateau is a three-storey concrete block structure painted yellow. It overlooks the little village of Walnut Grove perched between the low road and the Yangzi River. Each of the dozen stone farmhouses appear self-sufficient with their apple and walnut trees, terraced corn, chickens and pigs. The local horses wear clunking bells. Woody is the entrepreneur of Walnut Grove. We didn’t see him until the next day. Mrs Woody met us on the road in and showed us to the accommodation block. Woody’s restaurant over the road is a great place to stare at the opposing sheer cliffs of the Tiger Leaping Gorge. The only vegetation on the opposite side is narrow stands of bamboo. The brown Yangzi flows quickly past Walnut Grove in a series of rapids. We sat out on the lookout at the stone tables and had some beers. The garden at Woody’s comprised walnuts, apples, chilli and marijuana. The restaurant menu offered something called ganja butter. It is possible that Woody’s entrepreneur-ism extends beyond the hospitality industry. Although, it must be said I saw marijuana growing wild throughout Yunnan province. With no power at Walnut Grove the gorge gets dark quite early. I had a wash in a very basic shower block with a fire sprinkler nozzle. I turned in after a terrific dinner of shredded potato with ginger and spring onion, chicken with peanuts and pork with chilli. I fell asleep to the smell of candle wax and the sounds of the giant cicadas. And a small tribe of children played happily until well into the mild night.