China, the flipside

“The road to love China”

I know it is wrong, but I think China is still not the place to be. Still it surprised me again. First it took me only 15 hours to get to Chengdu. The highspeed train network is really good. A piece of Chinese mass construction. And yes: Chengdu seems to be even a lovely city. A bike tour with a local guide can change your perspective and shows you the places that are indeed good to see or to visit. The usual thing if it comes to cities in general.

Around Chengdu you find the place Leshan which is famous for the biggest Buddha on the planet. And it is really massive. I’m more or less as big as a finger nail on the photo. The amazing thing about the Giant Buddha is the reason to build it. The Buddha needed to protect the city from the dangerous river. In fact it did! During the construction (which took 90 years!) they used stones and sand from the same river changing the river bed. As a result of this the river flows in a slower pace without damaging Leshan. The monk who came up with this idea is gold.

No matter the cities are good, it is sometimes time to move on to quiet places. Lijiang is definitely not quiet, but it is so lovely. If you get yourself lost in the tiny streets (as I did) you find yourself in an oasis. Early morning is the best time to see locals getting ready for the day. Brushing their teeth, washing cloths, opening the stalls, are all not uncommon. This place deserves to be a World Heritage Site. See this on the photo page.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

As I said, I was on my way to a quiet place. Even in China I found it. The magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge. A trekking which I did in 5 days, through the deepest gorge in the world. Stunning views on vertical cliffs and a raging river on the bottom of it. With warm sunny days the area was covered by wild flowers. Just enjoyable.

The trail is not much used since a newly opened road gets all the tourists. That’s good news for me. Hitting the first lodge on the way was a lovely family who welcomed me. They’re Naxi and have their own dialect and delicious food. As time flies I walked to the next place on the trail. This guest house had a incredible view on the cliffs and mountains of the gorge. The roof terrace where you can visit is called the “inspiration” terrace. And yes, in such a place it is easy to get inspiration, but also a moment of shutting down your brains. The other day I walked along these steep cliffs with breath taling views on a waterfall. Finishing in the village “Walnut Garden” was surprise. Here I descended for more than 45 min into the gorge to river level. I felt small and humble compared to this creation of nature. The river is raging is way into the gorge… making it even deeper after many years. Views will be different, environment has been changed. Will the gorge still be there?

There are planty of threats. The new paved road facilitates development and construction. Also the plans to build two dams in the river will defenitely harm the environment. The construction of the dams just have been approved and will start at the end of this year. Documents about the project are top secret, so nobody knows the consequences.

Finishing in Hong kong

I finished my travels in China so far in “spring city”: Kunming. Also very laid back and a 24 hours train ride to Guangzhou. From this city I took the train to Shenzen: the gateway to Hong Kong. Here I got an appointment with a field guide of WWF. With her I’ll visit one of the wetlands in Hong Kong. Also I’ll apply for a new Chinese visa. China is to be continued!

My travel plan

11 Apr – 10 May  Beijing – Chengdu – Lijiang – Kunming –
Guangzhou – Hong Kong – Macau

11 May – 11 Jun  Hong Kong – Shanghai – Xian – Tibet – Beijing

                 – Guilin – Yangshuo – Nanning – Hanoi/Vietnam

12 Jun – 11 Aug  The rest of South East Asia