[Ed. Note: This post is 4 months late. The trip was 8/15 to 9/10/11. Now that no one cares, I thought I'd post about it. I've been trying to write this for months, but really I was too focused on this project at work to make it happen... If you want to just look at my PICTURES, here they are, but I think the pix are better if you read this post & vice versa...]
[Ed. Note II: I was in China for less than a month. I saw a tiny, tiny, fraction of the country in terms of square miles. I met maybe 150 Chinese people. I had more than a "Hi, can I buy that?" conversation with maybe 10 (being REALLY generous). Nonetheless, I'm about to post something now that makes vast sweeping generalizations about an entire nation of over a billion people and thousands of years of history, with languages I can neither read nor write. So please accept everything I say here as gospel from someone who knows everything. I certainly do.
In all seriousness: I hope I don't offend anyone (esp. my Chinese friends) with my thoughts and impressions - I really am just trying to understand what I saw & felt while in a fascinating and very different place.]
Our hero in the Great Taklamakan Desert
A few months back, I was whisked off to China by my girlfriend to experience her step-mother country. Kimberly, although pretty damn white, has studied Mandarin since she was very young & then majored in Chinese studies in college & lived there for a total of 8 years. I knew she was missing China, so it should have come as no surprise when she hijacked our planned trip to India by taking us to China instead.
I recovered from this by planning to trade her for a panda. Perhaps two.
Unbeknownst to me, she subverted that plan by having us head to the far western deserts of China along the Silk Road. Pandas are NOT in the desert. Sigh. (She’s tricksy!)
Luckily, I found a new fascination soon after arriving in China: looking for signs of happiness.
But, before we get into that, a brief map:
View China Trip 2011 in a larger map
We landed in Hong Kong, then flew to Beijing, spent a week or so there, and then started heading consistently west, more or less along the route of the Silk Road: We took an overnight train to the ancient capital Xi’an, spent a couple of days there, then took a 26 hr train ride to Dunhuang (sort of the gateway to the West). We then flew to Urumqi, the most remote city from any sea in the world according to Guinness, and the biggest city in Xinjiang, the western-most province. From Urumqi, we flew to Kashgar near the border with Pakistan, and spent a few days there exploring the edge of China, before flying east to Shanghai & then back to Hong Kong.
Click HERE for more…