Traveling in China was more than an experience! It's probably the only place I've been that I wouldn't care to return. The year was 1987, not too long before the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. What was always present was the overwhelming crush of humanity--everywhere, even though the country is predominately rural.
I traveled 3rd Class--or less--on boats, barges, trains, and busses, with the chickens, pigs, goats, and kittens in baskets going to market. The most beautiful part I saw (and I was there about six weeks) was the Li River, in Southern China. It's the most photographed area, the mountains rising above the river, always kind of misty.
I stayed in a Buddhist monastery, (built in the 16th century) and climbed to the "Golden Summit" of the holy mountain, Emei Shan, near the city of Chendu. The stairs shown in the picture, were chiseled out of the granite mountain, and lead to the summit, 3077M (9500+feet). Along the way there were stalls where tea was sold, places to rent "crampons" that attached to one's shoes for greater traction in the hard ice higher up the mountain, and porters offering to carry you on their backs all the way up to the top. (I walked.) There was a small charge to climb the mountain; at the top, I found that it was for only one way! I had to pay again to come back down. This was the holiest of Buddhist mountains, and like traveling to Mecca for the Muslims, a devout Buddhist was obligated to climb this mountain at least once in their lives. Even so, I didn't see any religious activitiy going on. Monasteries in this area date from the 2nd century. Click here for Emei Shan picture. (60Kb)
Going to the Great Wall was a humbling and awe inspiring experience. Having been built from about the mid 12th century to keep the Mongols out of China, it's more than picture postcards can capture...it goes as far as you can see. (Actually about 1200 miles!) Click here for Great Wall picture. (55K)
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