Shangri-La goes up in Flames: The End of Zhongdian/ Dukezong

Shangri-La goes up in Flames

The End of Zhongdian/ Dukezong

Old Zhongdian / Dukezong
Old Zhongdian / Dukezong

Reports from the Chinese Press and Western News agencies talk of the Tibetan town of Dukezong (previouly Zhongdian) being destroyed by fire. It appears that the fire started in a backpacker hostel though this still has to be confirmed.

Old Zhongdian /Dukezong
Old Zhongdian /Dukezong

Memories of Zhongdian
Our first attempt to visit the town in 1991 was thwarted when the police pulled us of the bus just after Tiger Leap Gorge and sent us back to Lijiang. Zhongdian/ Dukezong was still apparently closed to Foreigners then. Eventually, we got there in 2007 on our way to Tibet.

Ganden Sumtsellin Gompa not destroyed by the fire in Zhongdian/Dukezong
Ganden Sumtselling Gompa not destroyed by the fire in Zhongdian/Dukezong

When we visited in 2007 we found an old wooden town (surrounded by a drab new town) that had been well-restored with a low key and laid back feel. There were some wonderful old Tibetan mansions around town as well as some nice bars and cafes in the old buildings. We especially remember Continue reading “Shangri-La goes up in Flames: The End of Zhongdian/ Dukezong”

On the Road Again: Guangdong Province

Guangdong Province is our destination this year and a much shorter visit than normal. We plan to base ourselves for almost a week in Guangzhou taking time to enjoy the Dim Sum and making various excursions. High on our list are the Diaolou near Kaiping; the river side temples near Qingyuan and the Bagua Villages near Zhaoqing. If there is time we would like to pop into the little known Hakka area of southern Jiangxi province and visit the Tulou (Hakka earth buildings) near Longnan. Finally,

Street Scene Chaozhou Guangdong Province

we’ll finish our trip visiting friends in Beijing after taking the bullet train from Guangzhou.

Mo Yan 莫言 wins the Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

Author: Pen name: Mo Yan 莫言.  Real name:  Guǎn Móyè 管谟业

Mo Yan wins Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

Anyone who has read our Chinese book review section will know that I’m a great fan of the Chinese author Mo Yan. So I would just like so say how happy I am that he has been recognized for his great works.  Hopefully, I’ll now be able to find a copy of his ‘Republic of Wine’ a little more easily.

Below are the reviews of two of Mo Yan’s books that are on our blog:

Big Breasts and Wide Hips丰乳肥臀

The Garlic Ballads /天堂蒜薹之歌 by Mo Yan莫言


Zhangye Danxia Landforms Geology Park (张掖丹霞地貌)

Zhangye Danxia Landforms Geology Park

Gansu province near Zhangye


Lunar Landscape at Danxia Landforms (张掖丹霞地貌)

For more on Zhangye and around click here: Zhangye / Mati Si

On our last day (in Zhangye), we decided to visit this newly developed geo-park, a scenic area of multi-coloured rocks, which has been put on the map by Zhang Yimou 张艺谋 who shot (part of) his film San Qiang Pai An Jing Qi 三枪拍案惊奇 here. This film, which is known by the titles A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop 三枪拍案惊奇, as well as A Simple Noodle Story, is Zhang’s personal take on the Coen brothers debut film Blood Simple.

Danxia Coloured Rocks

The geology park is about 40 kms, or an hour’s drive from Zhangye, in the opposite direction from Mati Si.

Zhang Yimou and Cast

We are told to get on a bus, and after a short drive we are let off at a viewing platform, from where we gaze at the amazing scenery.

Lunar Landscape

The landscape is positively lunar, or something out of a sci-fi pic: we are surrounded by row after row of Continue reading “Zhangye Danxia Landforms Geology Park (张掖丹霞地貌)”

Yunlong 云龙 and Taijitu 太极图

Location: Yunlong 云龙

China, Yunnan province, 150 kilometres Northwest of Dali.

Having arrived safely in Yunlong after a long and somewhat eventful journey from Xiaguan (Dali City), we set about visiting the sights and exploring the town, which to be honest doesn’t take very long, as there is precious little to see or do.

It’s not an unpleasant place, but definitely a little dull. There’s a nice area by the river for strolling and Continue reading “Yunlong 云龙 and Taijitu 太极图”

A Great Photo

This photo was published in the China Daily this summer and shows Chinese security personal under-going training before the Asian Games in Guangzhou.

Photo by Chen Fen

At first I thought it was a photo of another mudslide until on inspection it turned out to be a training exercise.

On The Road Again

Tomorrow we take off for yet another trip to China. We plan to combine it with a visit to Myanmar. We hope to go overland but this is increasingly looking impossible.

Our plan is to visit Beijing and then take the train to Kunming.

From Kunming we’ll try to get to a number of places in Yunnan, including: Heijing,Yunlong & Nuodeng, The Nujiang Valley,Tongcheng and around, Ruili (if it is possible to cross into Myanmar).

We still have a lot of material pending to put up on the blog, which we’ll do in October. I am not sure how much we can put up while we are on the road.

Seng-ze Gyanak Mani Wall outside Yushu Collapses

Parts of the amazing Seng-ze Gyanak Mani Wall outside Yushu collapsed during the earthquake. The tradegy is not only for Tibetan heritage, but also for human life, as we understand at least one woman was crushed to death by the falling stones.

The Seng-ze Gyanak Mani Wall was a special place of worship for Tibetans.  Pilgrims travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to walk around this astonishing pile of stones. My photos don’t do it justice.

What is a Mani Wall?

Mani Walls are rows of piled-up stones, engraved or painted with orations. The size of such Mani Walls can vary from the humblest pile to a circuit of several hundred meters. Pilgrims walk round these walls of holy stones in a clockwise direction, uttering prayers and twirling prayer wheels.

The Seng-ze Gyanak Mani Wall was truly enormous; a sign by its side proudly proclaimed that it is 283 metres long, 74 metres wide, 2,5 metres high and consists of 2 billion stones! What’s more, the Wall was still growing, as we witnessed with our own eyes: devout pilgrims contribute new stones everyday, which are hoisted up on to the pile carefully. The billions of beautifully carved stones carry the Buddhist prayers “Om Mani Padme Hum” or, “Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus”, and other orations.

I’m sure that whatever the damage caused by the earthquake, the indomitable spirit of the people who live in this harsh yet spectualar land, will rebuild and continue to build the Mani Wall.

Click here for more pictures.

Click here for AP photos:

Curso de HSK (Examen Oficial de Chino) Nivel 3 en la Universidad Complutense Madrid


Para cualquier persona que tenga interés en aprender el idioma Chino en Madrid:

Mañana 4/3/2010 es el último diá para matricularse en el Curso de preparación para el examen HSK nivel 3.

45 horas en total. Las clases son de  10:00-14:00 los viernes. Para mas información haz click aqui.

2009 Map

Here is the map of our 2009 summer route.

We’ll be putting up some more material in the next few days and weeks related to the trip. The next text will be about the Sichuan and Chongqing towns of Pingle and Songji. This will be followed by more information about Yushu and the area around. We took so many photos that it is taking ages to sort through them.