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Published: January 29th 2008
It is difficult, at best, to encapsulate the China experience in a few hundred words
. Epistles perhaps! Maybe in lexicons; possibly in volumes of lexicons. 'But a summary should be concise', you'd say. And we agree. So here goes our feeble attempt to cram our China experience, all 33 days and well over 5000 km of travel, into the impossible, proverbial nutshell.
From the get-go, right from jump-street, we knew that backpacking thru the PRC could prove to be the best of times or the worst of times. Looking back, it was truly the former. China is a spectacularly beautiful country with something for every traveller. A place where forests are made of stone and where buses have beds; where snow caps abound and stars come closer; where mountains are named for dragons and precious stones while padlocks are forever. One cannot help but marvel at the uniqueness of armies buried and resurrected; of never-ending walls disappearing into the clouds; of clouds of smog and olympic dreams; of whole cities stuck in time and of a Buddha with a toe so big that it still dwarfs the combined height of two grown men.
Awesome national parks and nature reserves,
mind-boggling infrastructure and architecture old and new and night markets with a plethora of the exotic; these are things we remember. And playing 'hit-the-hole'
in squatters on herky-jerky trains. The sounds (from deafening to pin-drop), the smells (from sickening to 'is-it-edible?'), the food (from tangy, gingery steamed fish to lava-like, tongue-scorchers). Glacial temperatures and Sahara suns, clear moonlit nights, Tibetan vocalizations and bus rides on the edge of nothing; we'll never forget. Monastries and temples, mushrooms on a stick, riverside theatres and pedalling thru rice paddies; these lie within our dreams.
And the price was right too. In all that time, with meals, entrance fees to attractions, transportation, accommodation and miscellaneous items like postage and internet, we only parted with USD 2,206.00 combined. That is, USD 32.44 per person per day
The distribution (per person per day in USD) follows:-
But more than decent spendings, big old moons and snow mountains; much more than misty karst peaks, fast-flowing rivers and rice terraces and superceding even Jiuzhaigou, China's treasures are its people
. Loud, unavoidable, irrepressible, masses of humanity welcomed us, oggled us, photographed
us, feared us, embraced us, fed us, protected us, directed us, entertained us, befriended us. Smiles came easy and friendships were genuine (well, most anyway). And we are, and will always be, eternally grateful. So to Tommy, Xiao, Windy, Wang Lee and friends, Shella from HK, Sophia from Leshan, Kidd and Jessica from Chengdu, Luotingli (with the story we can't tell), the family from the hotel in Lijiang, the Naxi ladies, the Tibetan singers, the driver from Simatai and the many others whose names we don't know, we offer you all one big 'XIE XIE'. YOU
made our China trip so special.
With so much left to experience in a territory so vast, we hope to see China again. Oh, and 'No'! China is not 'China' in Chinese. It's 'Zhōngguó'.
Over and out! PEACE!
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