THEY say every journey starts with one step. Sometimes it starts in farce, too. Knowing it is essential to set off early from Beijing to visit the Great Wall before the tourist masses arrived, I arrange with my Chinese friend Qian for an 8am start. She holds out for 10.30am. We haggle and eventually compromise on 9am. Qian turns up at my hotel at 9.30am and then drives to a Starbucks for breakfast. Continue reading “China: Great Wall”
THE JET-LAG wakes me at 5am and I rise to explore Macau, the quiet, rain-soaked streets already warm from the searing tropical day to come. Coming back to my hotel at 8am still befuddled by lack of sleep, I go in the wrong door and find myself in its casino.
HAVE you noticed you never quite get to Shangri-La? I arrived in the pretty town of Lijiang at night and, although it is a Unesco World Heritage site, I was totally unprepared for its charms.
Red lanterns lit up narrow cobbled streets lined with traditional Chinese wooden buildings and small stone bridges spanned an intricate canal system. Off the main square, a row of picturesque drinking dens were brimming with young Chinese revellers. Continue reading “China: The road to Shangri-La”
PERHAPS, if I could read it, the graffiti etched into the rocks of Kunming’s Stone Forest might seem less picturesque. For all I know, the beautiful calligraphy is the equivalent of ‘Kilroy was here’.
However, for me, the Chinese script merely adds to the charm of this 400sq km ‘forest’ – actually an ancient seabed of limestone, weathered into ethereal karst formations. It turns out I am not the only one. My guide explains that some of the carvings are now tourist attractions in their own right because of their age.
THE QUEUE is four wide and stretches endlessly into the distance. We shuffle along at an efficient, if not quick, pace.
I’m the only foreigner among the thousands of tourists around me – curious glances are sneaked, the odd stare.
We’re waiting to see the embalmed body of China’s most famous son, Mao Zedong, the man who brought communism to China. Continue reading “Beijing: Thronging to see Zedong”