27 December 2008

yanghsuo, part one

travel is over and i'm back in america.

a few weeks ago, however, i was in china.  the people's republic, not hong kong, which, i learned, is a very different animal.

my trip started in shenzhen, just across the border from hong kong.  though i saw very little, it was immediately clear that shenzhen was a very different place --- darker, dirtier, colder.  not a place i wanted to stay for long.  thankfully, the sleeper bus arrived quickly.  

not that the bus was much of an upgrade.  for the next ten hours --- the rest of the night --- i laid in a cramped, uncomfortable bed.  on a bus.  careening through the south of china.  

and i do mean careening.  our driver had some very clever ideas about when to pass on the "highway" --- curves, especially, and also in the face of obviously oncoming traffic.  highway is a misnomer, as well.  more like dirt road.  dirt road under construction.  not that that stopped our driver from trying to set a time-to-distance record that evening.

though i traveled by night, i was able to catch a glimpse of the countryside.  beyond the open space, in stark contrast to hong kong, and the miles of empty buildings, i was most struck by the slave labor camps near the highway.  i imagine the workers were receiving some small amount of yuan for their work, but i say, call a spade a spade.  in the cold night, they slept only in tents made out of thin acyrilic material, no fires, surely little clothes.

we passed through a few towns, and i could only capture the feeling of the ride with pretentious, blurry photography.  while i tried to fall asleep on the bus, i tried to come up with a suitable simile for china.  china is like cellophane --- it has some of the qualities of beauty, like gloss, clarity, lightness, but the whole is much lesser than the parts.  in fact, the whole is pretty icky when you get up close and touch it.

when ryan and i arrived in yangshuo, we stumbled around in the darkness until we finally found a hostel at which to crash.  within five minutes, a gentlemen who purported to be the manager of the hostel knocked on our door to give us a few tips about the yangshuo.  a few minutes later, it became clear that the tips were a sorry attempt to net a few round-eyes into paying far too much for a guided tour of the area.  it took a lot longer to finally chase him out of our room.

welcome to china.

18 December 2008

rising sun

japan is incredible. i've been here for seven days now, and from the small pleasures of little thoughtful tricks, to the big surprises like partying with a local businessman at a dive bar, it's really been one hell of a trip.

11 December 2008

yangshuo, prolouge

i'm afraid i won't be able to post about this last weekend's trip to inside the people's republic of china until... a while.  here's a taste of yangshuo.  beyond it's touristy middle, i was able to get a taste of real, undistilled china.

i like hong kong much better.  china is a dirty, ruthless place.

05 December 2008


and then i bought these sneakers. for hiking?

sai kung paradise

last tuesday i went on an absolutely beautiful hike in hong kong's sai kung area, right on the coast of the south china sea. after a short 90 minute journey from my apartment, by subway, then bus, then taxi, i found myself in a remote, solitary paradise. most of the time, i couldn't hear a single human-produced sound: no boats, no planes, no motors, no alarms. it was stunning.

the hike started near a reservoir filled with crystal-clear blue water.

we hiked through bamboo forests. the air was clear enough, the light was bright enough, that this photo practically looks like HDR.

the highlight: an amazing beach, nestled between two mountain ridges. massive waves rolling ashore. clean air and sand, and not another soul, save ryan, my comrade.

we had another very, very steep hike on the trail, up 1200ft... a never ending staircase.

the view, however, was more than worth it.

far, far more than worth it.


going down the other side of the mountain, we could see sharp peak in the distance. apt name.

unfortunately, the sun started to go down and we had to cut our hike a little short.

we tried to scuttle back via another trail, but the sun started to get dangerously, if not beautifully, low. then, we took a wrong turn and ended dropping down the mountain on a steep, overgrown trail. soon, the trail led to small, suspicious dam, and we turned around, afraid that snakes or vc might be lurking the trees.

really great hike. after returning from my two major excursions --- mainland china, beginning tomorrow, and then japan --- i plan to finish it before returning to america.

i will miss it here.