The bus ride from Chaozhou back into Fujian through the Hakka areas is beautiful. You pass through green mountains, rolling hills and rich farming land. What is more, there are several stunning villages along the way, great places for a quick stop and a bit of exploring, if you had your own car. Of course, there is also the occasional ugly industrial town to remind you that you are still in the 21st Century.
There is a marked difference between the Han villages you see on the early part of the journey and the Hakka villages near the Fujianese border. The Han villages are compact, houses are made of stone and white-washed, a number of them are two-storied with traditional eaved roofs, quite similar to the famous Huizhou architecture, near Huangshan. As you approach the Fujian border, the ordered Han villages give way to more spread-out farming settlements, characterised by the traditional Hakka earth buildings. The ones you see along the way are absolutely authentic and family clans still live in……….
Avoid Dali, the once mythical city and haven of back-packers, now not much more than a vulgar theme park. Only 33 kilometres away is the lovely village of Xizhou, with its impressive Bai architecture, which can give you a taste of what Dali once was like. If you wish to explore the beautiful area around Erhai Lake, you could do a lot worse than base yourself in this friendly and laid-back village.
Xizhou has played an important role in the history of this region of Yunnan, as it once served as an important military base and……
As you approach Zigong, sculptures and posters of dinosaurs announce that you’re arriving in “Dinosaur City”, as the city is known by the Chinese. Zigong is a pleasant modern city, built along the banks of the Fuxi River that has so far managed to maintain large areas of traditional and interesting architecture, despite its recent development and prosperity.
Besides Dinosaurs, Zigong has an abundance of sites, and is definitely worth spending a couple of days. The city owes its prosperity not so much to dinosaurs, as to salt and, in particular, the important role this product played during Imperial times. The salt mining techniques developed at Zigong were among the most sophisticated in the ancient world. They included building precision drills,…….
During the first two or three months of every year, thousands of professional and would- be professional photographers descend upon this remote town in Yunnan province to take photos of one of nature’s most beautiful phenomena, the changing of winter to spring on some of the most spectacular rice terraces in the world. At this time, the paddies are full of water, and their beauty is enhanced by the shifting contrasts of light and rolling mists that provide stunning vistas. At sunrise and sunset the water in the paddies can take on a myriad of colours, ranging from an eerie blue, to pink, yellow and bright red, thus providing the perfect hunting ground for those in search of the ultimate shot.
Unfortunately, our work schedule left us with no choice but to visit Yuanyang in summer, when the terraces have taken on a bright emerald hue, but are devoid of water. They are still an awesome sight, especially at dawn, but they are no match for those glossy photos, adorning the multiple coffee-table books and postcards that you can find all over town. The locals, who seem to be fairly obsessed with rice paddy viewing, constantly remind us that this is the wrong time to visit and insist that we should come again in February, to see the real thing!
Dazu Town – 1991 When we first arrived in Dazu on a damp, cold day in January 1991, after a long but uneventful bus ride from Chongqing, we found ourselves in a small, grubby market town under a grey sky and a light drizzle. A couple of grotty, but overpriced hotels were the only evidence that Dazu might be home to something more than the abundant vegetables found in its markets….
In September 2005 we returned to Dazu and discovered the town had changed beyond recognition. These days, Dazu is another example of a Chinese boomtown: new white- tile apartment blocks springing up like mushrooms after an autumn shower, a modern, bustling pedestrian shopping street where the old market area had been and plenty of shiny hotels. The local residents had undergone a transformation too: instead of Mao-suited peasants, there were now hip and fashionably dressed youngsters, wielding mobile phones. The newly refurbished Dazu Hotel was ready to cater to the whims of any fussy and…..
One of the more pleasant Surprises of last year’s visit to Zhongdian in the South Western province of Yunnan was sitting in a Tibetan run wine bar nipppling delicious cheese and washing it down with a pretty decent red wine. Both products were locally made. The cheese, unlike most Tibetan cheeses, was neither sour or tooth shatteringly rock hard. Actually it would go down well at any French or Spanish table. The cheese was produced in a remote mountanious area by a cooperative with the aid of western expertise. In April HolaChina: Your Gateway to China will bring you a full length article on how this unusual business came about. Stay posted!
The journey to Litang takes about 7 or 8 hours and takes you through some pretty rural scenery. For the first two hours or so, the bus goes through farming land and past some gorgeous two-or three-storey Tibetan farmhouses; these are sturdy stone and wood dwellings with a courtyard and….
The authentic Chinese Restaurant Nihao XiaoChi, located in Calle Silva Just off the Gran Via in Madrid, closed down a few months ago. It has since resurfaced as Nihao Huoguo in the same street. The food is still great with the added plus that real Sichuan dishes have been added to the menu.
The Chef is from Chongqing and will happily make the authentic fiery Sichuan Huoguo (Sichuan hot pot). See you there!
The immense region of Xinjiang, situated in the far West of China, is its largest province. Xinjiang shares international borders with no less than 8 different countries; from North to South these are: Tajikistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Within China, the region borders on Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet….