Merry Christmas 2018

I know that no one likes form letters but it is the most efficient way of spreading my doings for 2018.  It does save me the need to repeat myself.  Please click on the link below for the actual letter.

2018 christmas letter

Outdoor – Chinese Style

I am home now doing this on my computer.  I enjoyed my first couple of days back in Canada, jet lag and all.  I am appreciating my personal space, the clean air, the polite Canadians, my favourite web sites, …  I want to finish documenting my Chinese travels and then proceed to full-on Christmas.

I was going to call this section “Chinese Wilderness” but then realize that I was not in any true wilderness in China.  China is a very crowded country and there are Chinese everywhere (really).  The domestic travellers far outnumber foreign visitors in China.  The Chinese are out visiting their own country everywhere I went.  Both the Tiger Leaping Gorge and Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) were on my to-go list before I arrived in China.  Both were, of course, depending on good weather.  I was very lucky as the weather cooperated; especially for Huangshan which rains a lot.

The Tiger Leaping Gorge is a well known 2-day trekking trail in northwest part of Yunnan.  The name came from the legend that, once upon a time, a tiger leaped across the river when chased by hunters.  It is one of the deepest gorge in the world.  The river that carved out the gorge will eventually join and become Yangtze River, one of the longest in the world.  The trail starts near the bottom half of the valley, works its way up, levels out and follows the contour along top third of the valley, and eventually comes down to the road, near the bottom third.  The trail is well marked and not particularly heavily used when I was there.  It is the slow season for tourism as overnight temperature close to freezing is considered serious winter weather for the Chinese.  Also, the on-and-off bus variety of tourism is, by far, more popular in China.  I was told that more active holidays are gradually gaining momentum in China.  It is a lovely walk, although some huffing-and-puffing is required as there are some steep hills at higher altitude then I am used to.  The scenery showed tenacity of human as agriculture was carried out as much as possible.

Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is probably the most popular tourist site in China.  I can understand that as, more than anyplace I visited, the topography reminds me of the classical Chinese landscape painting (impossibly steep cliffs with lone pines clinging to the rocks).  What I missed was the fog and the low clouds (from bad weather) that add the air of mystery.  There are hotels on the top and they provide anywhere from dormitory accommodation to 4 stars, at a price of course.  The cost of food and accommodation easily tripled those at the bottom of the hill.  However, everything has to be carried up and then down the hill by porters as there are no roads; this would include food, kerosine, building material etc.    Is this all worth it?  I think the answer is yes.  Although I am very glad that I visited mid week in the low season; even then, I felt claustrophobic at times with the crowds as some of the trails are very narrow and jutted out from side of the rock face.  

This concludes my travelogues from China.  I now start planing for my next adventures starting with Israel and Jordan in April 2019.  Until next time.