Monday, February 21, 2011

China, Part Three (In Which I Get Lost and Later Stuck in Snow)

Oh, China. It's takin' me FOREVER to write 'bout you, but I won't quit you now.

Last time, on Mariah's Incredible Journey, we visited Xi'an and Chengdu. Jon Arnston had a great question for me, which I will now answer:

"Just curious, how were you received among the different Chinese people you encountered?"

Whoa, I had to write a paper on this very topic!

The Chinese treat foreigners very well. The only time I felt uncomfortable was when I was shopping in some of the markets, but it wasn't necessarily that I was a target... anyone that something to sell sold it hardcore. Seriously, I don't recommend getting trapped between two ladies trying to sell you shoes. *shudder*

Several times, being a foreigner actually made me a celebrity of sorts. People would see my blond hair, or hear me speak English and immediately ask "Can I take a photo with you?" I would show you some, but I didn't get any on my camera :(

I met one very nice woman... wait, hold on... I'll tell you that bit in a moment.

Okay, so our next stop is Lijiang. Yay Lijiang!

This is farther West, and it's a city in Yunnan Province (here's a map):

It's in a valley between a range of mountains, the tallest being the end of the Himalayan Mountains, so the altitude was a little higher than I was used to. It turned out alright, though, because it made our time there warmer!

Most of the things we got to see were natural (mountains, lakes, etc.), but the town we stayed in, Shuhe old town, was pretty active. It's a real tourist destination because, besides the multitude of shops, it's still relatively traditional compared to bigger cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

That isn't my photo, but isn't that the China you'd think China looks like?

The people native to the region, the Naxi, were very kind. I won't talk about them too much, so I can continue on, but their culture is pretty interesting, so you should look them up if you get the chance.

I visited Jade Dragon Snow Mountain...

... and it's glacier park...

... and Black Dragon Pool.

In short, Lijiang was one of my favorite places of the entire trip.

Next we went to Shangri-la, which was as close to Tibet as we would go. We took a bus there (we flew the entire rest of the time) and on the way stopped to see Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge.

It was a long, exhausting hike to the top of the mountain to see the gorge, but the view was definitely worth it!

On the way down, I was with one of my professors instead of the 29 other people on the trip and, long story short, we got lost! There was a little town at the bottom of the mountain and a eight hour (or half hour car ride down really windy roads) hike back to civilization. Luckily, I speak Chinese, and there was a wonderful woman out sweeping the path to her house that could tell us where to go.

And thankfully I found my way back to civilization, or I would've been stuck here:

We finally made it all the way to Shangri-la (where the altitude just about killed all of us) and were able to see Songzanlin Monastery, a huge, beautiful Tibetan Buddhism Monastery.

It started snowing when we were at the monastery and we couldn't leave the following day because it closed down the airport. We missed a day in Kunming, which is where I'll pick up next time I blog about China.

Whew! If you've made it to the end of this post, I congratulate you for surviving my ramblings (the funny thing is that I cut sooooo much out!).


Jonathon Arntson said...

I loved reading all of this! Thanks for answering my question.

Ali G. said...

I love how you pointed out that foreigners are sort of treated like celebrities in China! My grandparents went a couple years ago, and they're both pretty tall - my grandpa's 6'4. Women would bring their babies up to him and ask him to take a picture to show that their babies had met a tall American!
I want to go someday to see how I'd be noticed as a tall redhead. :) I love reading your posts about your trip!

inthewritemind said...

The photos are lovely! I'd love to go to China someday. I've heard stories from a friend who lived in Chengdu about being stuck in a marketplace with the very persistent salespeople.

Have you ever seen the series Avatar: The Last Airbender? A lot of your photos remind me of some of the scenery in that show, which is heavily based on Chinese culture (among others) and martial arts.

Sarah said...

Love the pictures! And it snowed? Is that typical in China? See, I told you I am totally clueless. ;)

OOH, were you by any chance still in China during the Australian Open when Na Li made it to the finals? Please tick yes or no. If yes, what was it like?! We heard everyone was crazy excited!