China: The road to Shangri-La

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”

China: A Kunming plan

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.

Continue reading “China: A Kunming plan”