worldwide walkabout the tiniest bird takes a walk.

25Sep/090

insane mountain journey 9/22-9/24 (shangri la-chengdu)

wow! when i signed up for the journey up and over some of china's tallest mountains, i figured it would be an adventure. i got even more than i had bargained for! this area is full of tibetan towns and settlements, yak herders, and fortress-like homes. the scenery was amazing, although i wasn't able to take many photos, especially on day 2 of the journey (was too busy hanging on!). we reached elevations of over 2, 500 meters and despite the fact that i was wearing every article of warm clothing, i was still a bit chilly! got good use out of my cozy sleeping bag these days though. what an experience!

day 1 shangri la-dao chun: had an early start from the hostel, power was still out at 5 am from the night before. it sure is dark out at that hour! the day began with misty forests, deciduous trees strung with garlandlike moss, and a very rattly window! it had been raining the day before so that one section of the road had turned into very deep mud. i couldn't believe it when the driver went for it and then was able to back out when we got stuck. he assessed, put chains on the back wheels of the bus, and there we were skidding around in the mud with a pretty massive cliff just two feet to the right. my little heart panicked. everyone clapped when we cleared it and didn't fall of the cliff! the scenery was just stunning: blue skies, puffy clouds, tibetan architecture, valleys, and the amazing looking granite mountains (on the other side of the bus...rats). overnighted at a tibetan lodge that a really kind tibetan man took me to-the owners had the most adorable little girl who was not shy!

day 2 dao chun-kangding: an even earlier start to the day! projected 12 hour journey. arrived at the station at 5: 18, wondered why the bus trunk was so dusty. soon found out! i should have known better when the second driver, just starting his shift, warned me to not sit in the back row because i was going to hit my head on the luggage shelf two feet above me. i shifted over a seat and later back to my original seat-i was getting chucked around like no other! i love bumpy rides but this was too much for me! i really couldn't take any photos because everything was flying about, myself included! the driver really burned it over the bumpy dirt road and didn't seem to use the brakes even while peeling around the sharp switchback turns. it was for not though, as we had to wait for two and a half hours for the road to open back up from repairs. after we got back on the road, we spent the next 3 1/2 hours in traffic due to poor planning with the road construction! people smoked on the bus, i think, due to boredom or stress. in total, the journey was 17 1/2 hours-a very long day of bumps, dust, and chain smoking chinese men!

day 3 kangding-chengdu: this was the easiest day on the rear, as almost all of the road was paved. passed by some very beautiful valleys, rice and tea plantations, and the endless chinese construction. the no smoking sign on the bus window was a joke: even the driver was chain smoking, despite the fact that the windows didn't open... given road conditions, i found it ironic that we got a flat tire! we were held up by changing the tire and then later by repairing and reinstalling the tire. arrived in chengdu in a short 8 hours-from here on out trains (with readily available toilets) are available! gearing up for a long haul to mongolia.

25Sep/090

shangri la 9/21-9/22

it rained for most of the time i was in shangri la...i sometimes forget how much weather can affect ones experience. not only that but also the hostel that i stayed at was not so great. the power also went out for the afternoon, evening, and into the morning of my departure!

however, i did visit the ganden sumtseling gompa which was beautiful and a bit what i imagine lhasa to look like. while climbing the stairs, i felt like a wimp for being so winded, however, on the climb down i noticed two chinese tourists huffing cans of oxygen, after which i felt less bad.

25Sep/09Off

amazing tiger leaping gorge 9/19-9/20

luckily the dam project that was to flood much of this gorge was cancelled! yay for one of the deepest gorges in the world! it was an absolutely glorious couple of days of trekking about.

day 1: shared the path with some horses, a few cows, and a handful of hikers. enjoyed the perfect weather, the stunning vistas, and along the way met a baby moo who walked right up to me. i held out my hand and the little guy coated it with saliva goo. salt lick? also met a horse wearing a bell, fed that one an apple on the sly. the trail was not nearly as gnarly as i had expected it to be; much of it was flat and i made it to the guest house just in time for supper, a shower, and sunset.

day 2: early morning start-hiked down into the gorge on steep trails that two families blazed. there were hand rails, a rope bridge, ladders, palequins, and signs that read "falling rock. go quickly." this day even more intense than i had expected! had the place all to myself. caught a ride back west, we had to wait for the falling rocks to stop falling into the road.

25Sep/090

ancient city of lijiang 9/17-9/19

i have been getting spoiled with all of these ancient pedestrian only cities! hope that i don't forget how to cross the street in china-usually a terrifying experience!

lijiang was an absolute maze! the architecture is truly beautiful: traditional rooftops, cobblestone streets, waterways, waterwheels...much of the ancient city though has been taken over by the chinese tour buses that spew out hoardes of visitors. despite this, it was fun to walk around and be lost in the chineseness of it all. early morning was my favorite time to explore the city and have some of my favorite breakfast foods.

keith, my travel partner, and i agreed that traveling together wasn't working out for either of us. we are very, very different. from this point on i'm going solo!

18Sep/091

dali 9/14-9/16

here is my first posting with images from the  new SLR camera i picked up in kunming! been revelling!

i'm getting quite obsessed with the rice harvest which has begun! we took the slow train from kunming to dali and witnessed the first parts of the fields being cleared. the harvest is a beautiful, fascinating and labor intensive process and i've been able to get a closer look by foot and by bicycle. today i met some very lovely farmers who were stacking their tractor high with rice stalk bundles. they were so friendly and i thought the only decent thing to do was to help too-it was fun! they invited me to their home for lunch; perhaps the most notable dish was raw pork dipped in very spicy chili sauce! i mustered the courage to try a smidge but couldn't eat the bigger portion that got placed into my bowl...

we're staying at the most delightful guest house-the jade emu and henry, one of the staff members took us out to traditional bai dinner last night: granny's spicy potatoes, honeycomb corn, fish soup served in a ceramic hot pot, pork ribs, and herbal tea that is said to make one more comfortable after having eaten spicy food! henry's pretty much one of the nicest people in the world.

the ancient city of dali was delightful.

Filed under: china, Uncategorized 1 Comment
17Sep/090

xishuangbanna, china 9/7-9/13

we crossed the border at mohan, china and during the first four hours of bus journey to jinghong, i was flabbergasted by how much china had changed in seven years. the highway was smooth and paved, and tunnels traversed the endless mountains. jinghong is a wonderland of chineseness: line dancers and musicians in the park, paddleboats in the artificial lake, dirty toilets, neon lights, snacktime, people spitting, and the ever curious stares!

from jinghong we did a bit of trekking. we took some bumpy buses to xiding, stayed in the nastiest mildew infested room, and caught the fascinating thursday market there. the locals look so interesting and there was so much for sale! farmers were picking tea in the fields and drying it in the sunshine. we walked to the friendly town of zhang lang, got lost, caught a ride on the back of a motorcycle and then schlepped all the way to man wa. it was a rewarding experience seeing traditional china.

16Sep/090

laos 9/4-9/6

yay! i thought i was unable to update from china but i was mistaken.

returning to laos brought back wonderful and funny memories of my visit last summer. despite my love for this beautiful and friendly country, we just spent a few days adventuring and passing through the north.

we had an exciting bus journey from the border to luang nam tha! our bus driver was in a big hurry to get through the winding, hilly roads. some orange-red liquid spilled from our bus and onto the road; we were stopped for some temporary tinkering and then a push start by the passengers!

we journeyed to muang sing and rented bicycles to check out the border that is currently only open for lao and chinese citizens. it was an uphill battle and in the end i couldn't be bothered to pedal up the increasingly steep last 3 km! a day later we crossed into china legitimately.

12Sep/091

Blocked in China!

wordpress is blocked in china, so there won't be any updates from me for a while.  i'll be back in a few weeks or so, when i reach another country.

stay tuned.

Filed under: china, Uncategorized 1 Comment
3Sep/09Off

trying to keep a chin up in thailand 8/27-9/03