Margo Carter – Queen’s of Tiger Leaping Gorge II

A few weeks ago I wrote a post regarding the passing of Margo Carter, a long time Australian resident of Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan Province, China.  I received some email feedback and have been asked to post the following.

I read with great interest the comments on running into Margo Carter, the Australian woman who moved to Tiger Leaping Gorge about ten years ago, ran a cafe at the start of the Gorge and became a life partner with Sean, a Tibetan who runs the Sean’s Guest House in the center of the gorge.

The comments that Margo was eccentric, or rude, seem so totally out of place with our experience, and thus I thought I should relate our tale. Mel and I met Margo in March 2009. I had heard about the great trek through the gorge and was very excited to do it. Mel (the more cautious half of our team) was a bit apprehensive because it was unclear from the maps and our reading, what we would do if we found the hike too hard and wanted to quit mid way (it actually is quite easy as you can always walk downhill to the road and hitch-hike back).

At any rate, when we arrived at the Gorge we ran into Margo…I told her of my desire to hike the entire gorge and sleep overnight on the trail… Mel on the other had mentioned his apprehension. She said “no problem” – I can help you both… and proceeded to offer to accompany us for two to three days (at an exceptionally modest fee) and be our guide. So the three of us took a taxi to Sean’s guest house, in the middle of the gorge, where we had a wonderful night in relatively luxury surroundings. We all ate at Sean’s by the campfire, and enjoyed meeting many other travelers and learning a bit about the gorge history. It was a delightful experience. The next day we took off on our trek. She was an interesting woman who had moved from Australia to explore China, and fell in love with the natural environment and decided to stay.

During our two days together we traded tales, and she was very accommodating to walk and talk at our pace. We stayed overnight at another guest house, enjoyed a fresh chicken stew (the chicken was killed in front of us) and continued on the next morning. Margo was opinionated… she did not like the commercialization of the gorge nor the fact that she saw many locals trying to take advantage of visitors. However our experience was that she eluded kindness, sensitivity, and had a keen intellect.

We continued to communicate when we returned home, and were shocked when a few months later we heard about the accident. The details were always very sketchy, and disturbing. I have a great picture of Margo, which I’d like to send you… so let me know how I can do it, and hopefully you will post it on your site. I’d like to promote in her memory the kindness she showed us during the few days we were together.

Diane Drey & Mel Winokur New Jersey, USA

Sean, Diane Drey, Margo Carter & Mel Winokur in Tiger Leaping Gorge March 2009Sean Xia (夏山泉), Diane Dey, Margo Carter, Mel Winokur – Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan 2009. Margo Carter and Diane Drey March 2010Margo Carter & Diane Dey – Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan 2009

I was just as surprised to receive an email from Ms. Dey (as well as Mr. Xia).

It was never my intention to offend, disrespect or instigate sadness among anyone.  I wrote largely based on my memories of  my brief time in the Gorge three years ago.  The above description is more fitting.

Update – 1 September 2010 – Additional Comments

A Chinese friend & I trekked Tiger Leaping Gorge at the end of February 2006. Margo was incredibly helpful & friendly to us when we met her in her store.

The comments about her being rude seem completely uncharacteristic, compared to the woman we met. She was also a passionate advocate for preventing the Chinese gov from building the new dam. Is it possible that she was starting to develop Alzheimer’s?


Ron Auerbacher
San Diego, CA

One Response to Margo Carter – Queen’s of Tiger Leaping Gorge II

  1. Sue Crosby says:

    Always interesting to hear the different impressions and experiences that people have. In my experience people often come across differently when managing and directing groups and I can imagine that trying to deal with large groups of tourists might not always bring out the best in someone.
    She sounds like she was eccentric (and I believe we all are in our own way) but also someone who did not suffer fools easily. She was definitely a memorable character and what more can any of us ask for than to be remembered in this life and to make a lasting impression. I’m glad you posted this so that we could see the other side of this fascinating women. I hope the circumstances of her death do not go unresolved so that her family and friends can find some answers and peace.

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