Thought for the Day:
|We thank with brief thanksgiving
| Whatever gods may be
|That no life lives for ever;
|That dead men rise up never;
|That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.
Algernon Charles Swinburme, ‘The Garden of Prosperine’
Favourite seaside city:
Qingdao, Shandong Province.
It’s got mountains one side, sea the other…
…a beautifully conserved German area…
..and clean looking beaches:
Favourite Beijing Place:
The Summer Palace:
(note we went to Beijing, the Li River and other places before we had a digital camera, and I’ve only scanned up a few random photos – I’ll replace this with better photos when I’m back in the UK in 3 or 4 months time).
Area I most regret not having visited:
I never did the Three Gorges cruise. However, here’s a picture of the magnificent Three Gorges Museum in Chongqing:
Favourite River Scenery:
Li River, around Yangshuo, Guangxi Province:
Tips for travellers: if you can get on a Chinese tour going from Yangshuo to Guilin (not one of the big boats going the other way) it’s a lot cheaper and you see almost as much. In any case, if you have the time and money book a private tour from Yangshuo going in the opposite direction – it’s just as stunning and the river is not nearly so crowded. This information may be out of date!
Biggest Tourist Con:
Shangri-La, Yunnan Province (real name: Zhongdian):
Shangri-La is a place in wild Tibet, a long, long way from Yunnan Province. Well, it would be if it existed – it was invented by James Hilton in his 1933 novel Lost Horizon. Hilton conceived it as a lost paradise where no-one grows old, not as somewhere which creates a fake ‘town centre’ of new ‘traditional-style’ buildings full of bars and shops to fleece tourists.
Most Hideous Photo of Me Taken Anywhere in China:
This was a tough call, but in the end I went for this thoughtful study of me relaxing in Guangzhou. Thanks to Jane for spotting the photo opportunity!
Favourite Overall Tourist Attraction:
No surprises here. The (reconstructed) Great Wall at Badaling is as spectacular as everyone says it is.
Most Wonderful Sight in China:
108 Dagobas (Yibailingba Ta), Ningxia Province:
We almost didn’t go: a visit meant getting off the bus from Zhongwei to Yinchuan in the middle of nowhere and hoping that a taxi would be there to take us to our destination.
So glad we decided to do it! The 108 Dagobas are one of the most impressive sights I’ve seen anywhere in the world.
A bit of mystery always helps: these twelve rows of dagobas (stupas) in the shape of a triangle were erected in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and no-one knows why this lonely place on the banks of the Yellow River (Huang He) was chosen.
Because the site is so hard to get to, there were few tourists, and the vision of these mysterious shapes looking down the river usually regarded as the ‘cradle of Chinese culture’ was irresistible.