Here are all the posts for China,southern, the first part of the China-Vietnam trip. The second part of the trip was Vietnam.

10 weeks in 10 minutes

Photo highlights from ten weeks visiting China and Vietnam in early 2011. Includes photos of Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Lijiang, Jinghong, Kunming, Dali, Hanoi, Cat Ba, Nha Trang and Saigon. Slideshow with recorded Dongba music. Some video.

China, southern Photos

Here are some of my favorite photos from my trip to southeast China in 2010. Click any photo to see slideshow.

next stop, China

In a few days, I fly to Hong Kong. I am really excited to be going.

I watched the movie Ip Man las…

I watched the movie Ip Man last night, for my visit to China. Martial arts master during the Japanese occupation of China. Good for genre.

About half the things I am pac…

About half the things I am packing were made in China. I guess I’m taking them back home.

Shangri-La, book

Lost HorizonAfter visiting Hong Kong, our first task is to find Shangri-La.

Every journey begins at home. …

Every journey begins at home. Good-bye comfortable home.

Waiting in San Francisco for f…

Waiting in San Francisco for flight to Hong Kong. No fog.

Arrived Hong Kong. Flight was …

Arrived Hong Kong. Flight was as pleasant as a 15 hour flight can be.

in Hong Kong

Stayed in Lantau Island for a few nights to get over jet lag. The Silvermine Bay Beach Hotel is right on the beach with a lovely view. Took a bus to the Big Buddha; it is supposedly the largest outdoor Buddha. Oddly, it faces Beijing. We climbed Lantau Mountain for a couple of hours, but did not make it to the top. Two monks were in the Starbucks. They were dressed in saffron drinking Wente lattes in red cups with white sparkle stars. Rudolph the red-nosed rainbow was playing on the muzak.

Silvermine Bay

Silvermine BayView of hotel on Silvermine Bay.

Big Buddha

Big BuddhaThe Big Buddha on Lantau Island is really big.

map of China

In a previous trip to China, I visited northern destinations: Beijing, Xian, the Tibetan Plateau, Chengdu, Lhasa and Mt. Everest.

This trip, we will focus on the south and west: Hong Kong, Guangzhou (Canton), Kunming, and Nanning. To start,  I plan to arrive in Hong Kong and spend a week or two there and in Canton. Then I want to fly to Lijian and visit the mountains, Tiger Leaping Gorge and ShangriLa.

Reminders of home

Reminders Reminders Some familiar names in a foreign place, Eugene, Oregon.

Hong Kong

I really enjoyed Hong Kong. In a few days, I think I got a good feeling for the city. In many ways, it is very accessible. Compared to American cities, it is pedestrian friendly and easy to get around. There are signposts everywhere. Similar to shopping mall corridors, there are pedestrian walkways (more…)

Arrived Guangzhou

Arrived by train from Hong Kong to mainland China. Guangzhou (once known as Canton) is abuzz as host of the 2010 Asia Games. Tonight China took gold in basketball, besting Korea.

Hong Kong Photos

Here is a gallery of my favorite Hong Kong photos.

New Friends

Met Hong on plane ride from States. Saw her today here in her hometown of Guangzhou. She was kind enough to show us around. Went to historic klan house, had dim sim lunch at a well-regarded restaurant, went to a large park and saw the city’s icon, a statue of five goats. Best of all, she invited us to her home to meet her family and have dinner. What a wonderful Cantonese dinner and such gracious hosts! We had large tiger shrimp,whole baked fish, chicken with whole eggs, lotus root and ribs soup, watercress, summer squash with pork and ginger, clams and vegetable. Afterward we went to a park to watch the fireworks for the closing of the Asia Games.

Guangzhou Photos

The 2010 Asia Games were finishing up while we were at Guangzhou. Although we didn’t attend the events, we did see the closing fireworks and visited the site. The icon for the city is goats. Legend has it that the people were starving from a great famine and goats descended from heaven to save them. One photo shows us in front of the statue depicting this event. Other show how the goats have been transformed as icons for the Asia games.

The Western Han Nanyue King Museum is located in Guangzhou. I’ve been to a lot of museums and ancient ruins, but this mausoleum really stands out. The site wasn’t discovered until 1983–and it had never been raided. The artifacts are about 2,000 years old and some of them look new. The photos show detail of the silk-jade garment worn by Emperor Wen to his burial. The jade discs (that look like giant DVDs) were laid until of the body in a specific pattern to provide balance and harmony in the afterlife. The ceramic pillows look terribly uncomfortable.

Arrived Lijiang

Flew from Guangzhou to Lijiang, about a two hour flight. Now in the mountains. Staying in UNESCO world heritage site, home of the Naxi people. Got down to freezing last night. Reminds me of a warm Tibet where you can breathe. Sunny and clear this morning.

Yak Yoghurt

After three long years, I had a glass of yak yoghurt. It was better than I remember it.

Four views of Hong Kong

Photos of Hong Kong from the top, sea level, to the left and to the right. Picture from the top is taken from Victoria Peak, at sea level is taken from the Star ferry, and the pictures from the left and right are taken from our hotel room at the Harborview Hotel.

Hair and style

hairDid this subway rider intentionally sit here because he liked the color of the advertisement?

A vase

A vase in Hong Kong Museum of Art. One of many ancient treasures.

map, Hong Kong

I first stayed on an outlying island, Lantau Island after landing  at airport. Took ferry to Hong Kong Island, first as a day excursion and second to spend time there. From Hong Kong, I went to Kowloon for day excursion. After Hong Kong, I will travel by train to mainland China, Guangdong Province.

map of Hong Kong

map of Hong Kong

map, SW China

This map shows our route from Guangzho to Lijiang. It took about two hours by plane.

Black Dragon

This is a photo of Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang.


Yaks live at about 10,000 feet to 15,000 feet in altitude. I am at about 8500 feet, so there is plenty of yak available. Some of it is fresh; most of it is dried, similar to beef jerky. It is not widely available in the States, as far as I know. You can sometimes find it in Tibetan restaurants or in packaged products in Asian markets.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest in the world. It measures 16 km long and 3900m deep (about 12,000 feet). The Jinsha River or Yangzi River cut the gorge and runs through it.

The hike

We took a bus for two hours and a taxi over a rough road for one hour to Tina’s Guesthouse. We had lunch and climbed down into the gorge. I am standing in front of the rock where the tiger supposedly leapt across the gorge.


Arrived at Shangri-La. Took five hour bus ride to get here. Staying in old town, auto traffic prohibited. So far, it’s cold and there’s very little oxygen; we’re over 10,000 feet now. We gained 2,000 feet and are feeling the effects. The photograph is taken from our hotel. It’s a Tibetan Buddhist temple.

After Shangri-La

At almost 10,000 feet in elevation and 27° North, Shangri-La will be the point farthest north, west and highest on our trip. We are at the border of Tibet and will now turn South to follow in the footsteps of the horse-tea traders.

A good shopping rule

This is a sign posted in Old Town LiJiang related to shopping behavior.

Yunnan Photos

We spent a lot of time in Yunnan province, most of it in Lijiang. We liked Black Dragon Pool so much, we returned several times. Yes, the scenery is fantastic, but the people watching is the best. The tourists are from the big cities to the east and north. The locals are the Naxi people, descended from the Dongba. The mountains are Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Heading South

We have finished our tour of the mountain towns of Lijiang, Shangri-La and Dali and are headed south to Jinghong in Xishuangbanna Province. Take 15 hour sleeper bus tomorrow.

Lijiang Old Town

This photo shows Lijiang Old Town with the mountains behind him.

Jinghong Photos

This album contains photos from our travel to very southwestern corner of China near Myanamar. This is the Xishuangbanna Region also known simply as Banna. We visited an elephant reserve, arboretum, tea plantation, zoo, and market.

arrived Jinghong, Xishuangbanna

The 15-hour sleeper bus lasted from 2 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. It was a rough road, maybe one-and-a-half lanes wide, with many curves, hills and mountains. There were only six passengers plus two dogs. There were enough beds for maybe forty people. At one point the bus seemed to break down and the drivers attacked the motor with a large wrench. Aside from occasional cigarette smoke, the ride was pleasant and I slept well enough. It is warm and humid here; it feels like Thailand, not China. This is very different from the cold, dry climate up north. What little Chinese we know doesn’t work here; they speak something else. Also, the signs have no pinyin (Chinese spelled with Western letters), only Chinese characters and those of another language.

Ready to Sleep

On the sleeper bus from Lijian to Jinghong, Xishuangbanna, about 15 hours. It’s really the only way to get there from Lijiang.

Wild Elephant Reserve

Today, we rode a local bus to a wild elephant reserve, about 20 miles outside of town.  Beautiful, jungle-y countryside.  Felt a lot like the cloud forests of Honduras or Costa Rica. It is really kind of fun to try to communicate when no one speaks any English. Makes you be very creative. Charades and a pen and paper come in handy.  Anyway, the place was beautiful, but we didn’t see any wild elephants. A few tame ones doing a show.  There were a lot of tourists at this place, not just Chinese, but all kinds of southeast asians.  I couldn’t tell you who, but they look quite different.  And lots and lots of people in native dress (the tourists).  And amazingly, (more…)

Lotus and Butterfly

These photos show a lotus flower and a butterfly on a poinsetta. We didn’t see any wild elephants at the Wild Elephant Preserve (we saw a few circus-style elephants). But it was a fun day. Lots of Chinese tourists and a wonderful butterfly pavilion.
lotus flower
butterfly on poinsetta

arrived Menghai

We wanted to get away from the city and see the old China and the countryside. This is it. We are surrounded by farms and tea plantations. Interestingly, the towns near Menghai include: Manlei, Manduan, Menghun, Menglian, Mengla, Menglun, Mengban, Menghan, Mengyang, Mengzhe, Manen, Manguo, Manbang, Manfeilong, and Mannanan!!!

Hill Country

Took a bus to Nannoushan outside of Menghai. Some minority people (Bai?) were selling their wares beside the road. The women all wore the same headress, blue and white plaid. We hiked on dirt roads into the hills. Several motorcycles passed us. It was warm, humid and smelled earthy. This mountain, Nannoushan Mountain, is famous in tea because it is very ancient. We could see very old tea bushes that looked more like trees. Long ago, tea grown here was compressed into molds and carried by porters to Tibet and northern China. This pu’er tea is special because by compressing the tea and aging it, the tea changes in flavor. We walked through two villages. A couple of men answered our hello, but generally the people were shy.

Women in China

We are in Menghai in Xishuangbanna, southwest China, a farming region, with tropical climate. The women of China have impressed me. I find them friendly, helpful and curious about foreigners.  But here are several groups that particularly stand out.  One are the women workers. They do manual labor and they physically work very hard. They work in the markets, cooking food, cleaning vegetables, sewing fishing nets.  They work on hillsides, often wearing long dresses, carrying bundles of firewood or sugarcane on their backs 8 feet tall by 4 feet wide.  Or today, there was a group of women cutting thick steel re-bar with huge heavy shears.  Another woman was out in a field in the hot sun.  She had planted an entire plot by hand, probably 100 feet by 25 feet with tiny rice seedlings, one at a time. They are sweeping the sidewalks with palm brooms, cooking in food stalls on the streets, carrying huge baskets filled with fruit or riding bicycles stacked with produce. You seldom see a woman idle.  Even the most elderly will be sitting peeling vegetables, or taking care of the young children.  You do see them driving scooters alone, but they are never the driver if their is a man.  Many people smoke in China, but I have yet to see a woman with a cigarette.  In this part of China, the men have all adopted western dress, but many woman still wear traditional native dress, purple beaded silk skirts, green woven with gold thread, bright yellow or red embroidered with silk.  The fabrics are beautiful.  Often an entire group of woman will wear the same pattern head scarves, (more…)

People Stare

People Stare
I’m on display
Fair skin, brown hair
Taller than most
Western clothes.

She with the kite on her head
He with the Mao suit
Them with red and white plaid turbans
All unnoticed.

Four people on a scooter
Two men welding on the sidewalk
She washing a chicken by the curb
He peddling a tricycle of produce.

People stare
Children run
A smile and a Ni hao
Changes everything
I’m ok.

arrived Kunming

We took a nine hour bus ride from Menghai that lasted from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and arrived in southern Kunming where we took a taxi to our downtown hotel. Along the way we saw endless terraces of tea plants, rice and lush green vegetables. The highway is an engineering marvel built through the steep mountains with tunnels over three kilometers (about two miles) and bridges spanning large gorges. The drivers took cigarette breaks and smoked the butts in a large bamboo bong, maybe three foot tall.

We left the warm southern ‘Banna tropics behind and are now at 6,000 feet and winter time. Glad we didn’t toss our winter coats. This will be our last stop in Yunnan Province. We went all the way north and west, then worked our way all the way south and west. ‘Banna is almost in Myanamar (once known as Burma). This morning we applied for Vietnam visas and will be here until we get them (Monday).

Kunming river scene

This photo shows the river walk in downtown Kunming.

Kunming Photos

Here are photos from December 2010 showing the city of Kunming. Kunming is known as “the city of eternal spring.” Some trees were blossoming, but it was also very cold and windy. West of town, there are some cliffs with ancient grottoes. We enjoyed a musical featuring the various ethnic minorities of Yunnan.

Dynamic Yunnan Song and Dance

Photo shows me with two Bai dancers before performance. This award-winning show fuses traditional ethnic minority people’s song and dance with high tech modern choreography. After traveling in Yunnan for a month, it was a treat and grand finale to see  and enjoy this wonderful show.


post by Dawn– We are in Kunming, and have been for a few days.  Finally found an internet cafe.  (How do you say internet cafe in Chinese, and then follow directions to find it?)  And then they are only supposed to rent you with an official Chinese id.  Anyway, we are here, waiting for our Vietnam visa’s, which actually should be ready later today.  We are then planning to fly to Guilin tomorrow, and spend Christmas in Yangshuo south of there.  That is the part of China with those beautiful sandstone karst pinnacles along the river.  It is supposed to be cold and rainy (hi 40’s), but we rented a really nice place, that actually has heat.  It will be nice I think. 
Kunming is a big city, 5 million (more…)

Arrived Guilin

Took a 90 minute plane flight from Kunming to Guilin. We have now left Yunnan province and are in Guangxi Province. We can see the tall limestone hills surrounding the city.

Yunnan map

This map shows Yunnan province. We flew to Lijiang and traveled north to Tiger Leaping Gorge and ShangriLa (Zhongdian), then south to Dali. A long bus ride took us to the Xisbuangbanna region where we visited Jinghong and Menghai (very close to Myanmar). Then we took a bus to Kunming.

Guilin horizon

Photo shows Guilin horizon with river and city in foreground and karst mountains in the distance.

Arrived Yangshuo

This photo shows view of Li River and karsts as seen from our hotel. If you have ever seen a traditional Chinese ink watercolor painting with mountains, mist and rivers, this is the place. We are here for Christmas.

Guilin Photos

These photos are from Guilin and neighboring Yangshuo. They show karsts and the Li River. This landscape has been the inspiration for poets and painters for centuries. Today many tourists enjoy the scenery.

How my iPhone kept me from starving

In many of the places we visited, no one spoke English. The menus didn’t have any English; they didn’t even have pinyin, only Chinese characters. I started taking photos of dishes we ate and liked. When I came upon a menu with English, I took photos of different items. When I wanted to order, I flipped through my photos to the right menu item and showed it to the waitress. It worked.

Internet cafes

Three years ago, Internet cafes were on every corner in China. People were sending emails. Now everyone uses mobile phones and the cafes are for gamers and watching video.

Vietnam, arrived Hanoi from Nanning, China

We crossed over the border into Vietnam. We left Yangshuo by bus back to Guilin for two hours and took a bus for four hours to Nanning. We stayed at a nice hotel and had a wonderful Cantonese meal. In the morning, we took a Chinese bus to the border and then a Vietnamese bus to Hanoi. The border crossing went smoothly.

see Vietnam, part 2 of trip

See the posts for Vietnam, part two of the China-Vietnam trip.




goldfishThese goldfish or Koi are in a feeding frenzy. I took this picture in southwest China in the city of Jinghong. At the entrance to the botanical gardens, there is a pond with water lilies and fish. Tourists buy food and toss it to these carp.