Sunday, March 31, 2013

Photos from the Best Trek in Southwest China: the Tiger Leaping Gorge

I have declared the Tiger Leaping Gorge the highlight of all my travels in 2012, certainly the highlight of my trip to China. I have written a guide to trekking the Tiger Leaping Gorge, too, for those who want to venture out to this corner of Yunnan province in Southwest China. For a relatively small amount of effort and money, you get to experience in return one of most geologically historic regions of China—being the source of the great Yangtze River—and one of the most spectacular landscapes in the Himalayas. Some people may not like it when they are told what the proper way is to travel, but believe me, you are missing out if you head to Southwest China and not experience with your own eyes, feet, and lungs the marvel that is the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Still not buying it? Behold. Here be photos.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Yunnan, China
Easily my favorite photo from our trek to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Weather began overcast that day.
By mid-afternoon, however, clouds part to reveal the magnificent jagged face of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guide to Trekking the Tiger Leaping Gorge

There are many reasons for which the Tiger Leaping Gorge is considered the best walk you can do in Southwest China. Dominated by the jagged north face of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain on one side and the towering cliffs of Haba Snow Mountain on the other, this narrow canyon of rock, soil and snow is a vertical geological marvel and a powerful sight that commands attention. From the Tiger Leaping Gorge, too, you will see more than a thousand meters below you the frothing waters of what is to be one of China's greatest rivers—the Yangtze—thousands of kilometers away from where it empties out, the East China Sea.

Related post: Photos from the Best Trek in Southwest China: the Tiger Leaping Gorge

I think I have written fondly about the Tiger Leaping Gorge a number of times. It certainly is the highlight of my trip to Yunnan, China. At this point, I think it's best that I provide others practical information on how to go trekking the Tiger Leaping Gorge. It is a travel experience I truly recommend for those traveling through Yunnan province or anywhere in Southwest China for that matter. Here is a guide to trekking the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China
Clouds set in through the Tiger Leaping Gorge covering the peaks of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Getting Published, Speaking Engagement, and Some Housekeeping

There is a reason for which lately, as some of my three readers may have noticed, this travel blog has been focusing on coming out with travel stories rather than practical travel guides, fun lists for light reading, or the goings-on of my travels. (May I direct your attention to my series of travel stories on Yunnan province?) I have been practicing, you see. I want to be able to write pieces I would personally love to read in travel magazines, stories I would gladly and willingly pay for to read, stories that focus on the travel destination rather than the traveler.

To sustain this travel-filled lifestyle, I have done quite a few freelance gigs out there: teaching online, translating, transcribing and writing. I am still engaged in some of these activities, of course. However, lately, I have been focused on working towards something else. I have been a travel-crazed backpacker, an expat (sort of), and a digital nomad. I wanted them all and to a certain extent, I have done them all. Now, I want to be as serious as this travel-filled lifestyle would allow me to. I am currently building a career as a travel writer and photographer.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Winter Goodbyes and Prayer Flags in Shangri-la

*To a recently passed aunt whose laughter was as loud and vivacious as the colors of the Tibetan prayer flags

It was rather odd, I thought. What is that white dust which floats so slowly and gracefully in the air, collide into the bus's windshield, and disappear without a trace? I have never seen anything like it. Then again, I have never really traveled to a place which has bitter cold winter in the middle of bitter cold winter.

It would take two more days for me to connect the (white) dots and figure out that what I saw from the bus as I headed up here in Zhongdian, or Shangri-la as the tourist brochures would have you believe, was actually snow falling. There was not much, but enough to make the cold air feel like that frosty smoke you see above the surface of ice cubes which come straight from the freezer. As soon as I stepped out of the bus, the icy air seeped into my nose and into my lungs. I felt it coursing through my chest so intensely, so harshly.

Zhongdian Old Town, Yunnan, China
Gloomy yet oddly beautiful snowfall in Zhongdian Old Town

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Searching for Meaning in Lijiang Old Town

Cobblestone lanes, small earthen houses with terracotta roofs, streams and waterways which weave through lanes and alleys, and magnificent views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain all come together in Lijiang Old Town. To say that Lijiang Old Town is lovely and pretty though is only a tiny part of its story. Situated in a geologically active area under the shadow of the Himalayas, Lijiang occasionally suffers from major earthquakes caused by the same tectonic activity which created the Himalayas in the first place. The last big one, seven on the Richter scale, struck in February of 1996 and left more than 300 dead and 14,000 injured. Around 186,000 houses were left in ruins.

However, thanks to 800 years of the tried and tested building methods of Lijiang's native inhabitants—the Naxi people, much of Lijiang Old Town remained standing with most of the earthquake damage falling on the modern buildings of Lijiang New Town. Using money from the government and the World Bank, reconstruction was done on Lijiang Old Town to remedy whatever damage the earthquake caused and only a year later, in 1997, Lijiang Old Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Old Town of Lijiang in Yunnan, China
Patchwork of roofs weaved by cobblestone lanes and waterways in Lijiang Old Town