Enter 2010 and where in China’s huge expanses should we visit now? China is the world’s fourth largest country (after Russia, Canada, and US), has over 600 million cell phone users, varied terrain, little untouched villages along with the main tourist scenes and a person could get a hernia lifting and reading The Rough Guide or Lonely Planet Book on China, both with close to 1,000 pages. This makes it almost impossible to pick a starting point when looking for a new area to visit.
Past trips have visited: Yunnan from Zhongdian (renamed Shangri La) in the North to Xishuangbanna in the South and on the border of Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar; the undervisited Khampa Region; Minority rich Guizhou; Central China; the road less traveled route from Qinghai to Chengdu in Sichuan; the northern branch of the historic Silk Road from Kashgar to Gansu Province; different areas of Tibet; and the usual first trip to China that includes Xian and Guilin.
We’ve spent days and returned many times to the major cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chengdu and Beijing. Traveled by air, cars, trains, buses and trekked on our own two feet to Mt. Khawarkarpo. We’ve walked through and visited ancient sites dating back thousands of year along with new and vibrant markets, and eaten an unending variety of Chinese food. Watch the video below that shows only the 40 Different Chinese Foods ex-Marine (husband, Steve) and I ate in 15 Days without repeating.
We’ve sat and talked (lost in translation) with a 100-year old woman who lived in a cave, compared “big hair” with minorities, stayed with Tibetans, and ended up in some places that I’d rather have not, but all part of the incredible experience that is China.
Is there anything left to see? An emphatic yes. Days spent reading, folding over and putting post-it notes on pages of interest. Surfing the Internet to see what possibilities there were for a 14-day trip in a different area of China for us to visit in April. I don’t believe in contacting a travel agent and letting them do all the work. It’s your trip and only you know what will potentially be of interest. Not a stranger, friend or travel agent. Travel is more fun and rewarding if you do some preparation and groundwork.
Eureka…Nanjing in Jiangsu Province. Southern Fujian Province with diverse coastal villages and Hakka tulou (roundhouses) in the southwest. Sacred Huangahan Mountain. Northern villages of Anhui Province, and minorities of Hunan Province. Smooshing four provinces into two weeks was stretching it a bit and the remaining, never-ending sights of China would have to wait for another trip. None of these areas is really “the road less traveled” unless you refer to Americans and Europeans. They are very popular with the Chinese who have set out to tour their country with enthusiasm.
Tomas, at Footloose Travel Guides, put this adventure together with us along with assurance that he worked with a crackerjack local tour operator. Since Footloose Travel Guides has arranged many past India vacations (their big specialty) – Orissa, Ladakh and Himachal just to name a few, Tibet and the Western Desert of Egypt, Tomas has earned our trust. It was time to fine-tune the choices and plan…