Published: January 1st 2006September 25th 2005
BYE BYE CHINA!!!
The border crossing was out of this world. A mixture of Chinese and Nepali trucks, trying to find their way along the narrow and winding road up and down the steep hill. It was a total BALAGAN. Taking pictures of the passport control is not allowed (still China...) but I managed to sneak in one.
So that's it! After five months in China (and Tibet) I am leaving. Exhausted, but satisfied.
From now on there is no more "may-ou" (don't have) which is the general answer to just about any question you can ask here, or "bu-she, bu-she, bu-she" (something like - no,no,no), there is no need to be alert and afraid that somebody is trying to fool you all the time, no need to practice my acting skills whenever I want to order food or just try to communicate, and in general - there is no need to fight my way through in order to travel.
China is an amazing country, but it is also a very frustrating country for travelers. The Chinese mentality is hard and challenging. They are ignorant of costumer's service. There is no mentality of helping foreigners, and in some places there is even fear
of foreigners. There is no need for tourists because there are so many Chinese travelers that flood every site. On top of all that their manners are different (if you can call that manners at all) - smoking on buses and trains, spitting all over, throwing trash on the floor inside the bus (and out the window), making noise even when people are trying to sleep on the night trains, natural gases are releases without hesitation, and I even saw a mother holding her child to pee on the floor of the train (and later letting that same child play on that same floor).
On the other hand - the huge area of the country has some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen, and so many different ones. There are many different cultural groups and different minorities spread around the country. Interesting architecture of wood and stone. Monasteries of different religions and different streams, most of them still active so it is possible to witness the remains of the ancient Chinese culture that is still alive. A long and impressive history. All of these make the trip an enjoyable and a satisfying one.
My China's Top 5:
It is impossible to summarize such a chapter without a list of the top five. It is a very hard task, but I will try: 1. Yangshou area -
Breath taking views
, little villages and local markets
, China as seen in the movies with the flooded rice fields and farmers with pointed bamboo hats, and the rice terraces of Longji Titian
which are one of the most impressive sights I have seen. 2. West Yunnan and Sichuan -
A Tibetan area free of the mess of the real Tibet, with happy people who live simple lives. Little villages with active temples between the snow peaked mountains. Beautiful places like Zhongdian
, the mountains of Deqin
, and the temple and the sky burial
. 3. Nature reserves in Northern Sichuan -
Two of the most beautiful nature reserves I have visited are Jiu Zhai Gou and Huanglong
. Despite the huge numbers of Chinese tourists it is still possible to enjoy the amazing scenery. Better to check the water level ahead of time, though... 4. Kashgar and the Karakoram Highway -
Xinjiang as a whole is a special place to visit being a desert and a Muslim area in China, a strong contrast to the classical China. Arriving here after a period in "main land" China is an extraordinary experience. Kashgar
stands up within this special area, and the Karakoram Highway
leading to Pakistan is a real jewel of simple people living simple and authentic lives within an amazing scenery. 5. Tibet -
No need for an introduction here. The roof of the world that is a home to a rich culture with a long history, as well as an on going political conflict. My best time in Tibet was during the visit to Mt. Kailash
and the trek around it, and of course during my visit to Mt. Everest
. But the Potala Palace in Lhasa
is also a place I misses a heart beat.
So, I am leaving, and not a moment too late - I don't think I would have made it here much longer without loosing it completely. However - I am sure that after a while I will miss this place, and one day even return...