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!).