Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Finally Getting Away --- to China

Gotta get out of the country at least once a year! Going to Alaska last summer felt like going to another country, especialy with the length of the trip, but, of course, it wasn't. I've been planning this trip since about March -- to Yunnan section of China. It's a second choice. I had wanted to trek on Katchenjenga, the third highest mountain in the world, in the Sikkim section of northern India and signed up with Snow Lion Expeditions with whom I've trekked twice. They do a great trip! But after I had angiogram and a stent put in my heart's left ventricle I thought long and hard about trekking to about 17,000 feet ... talked to a guide ... tho' she was assuring about how I didn't have to go higher than I felt I could, I finally decided the idea was foolhearty for one my age, that my trekking days are over -- alas... [but I still hope to do some hiking in the future]. Anyway, having paid a down payment I scoured the beautiful, enticing brochure and wanted to go everywhere they offered. Even subtracting the physically difficult trips, it took some time to chose among the cultural tours.
"Yunnan South of the Clouds" won because I saw a few "hill tribes" in Thailand some months ago and because Yunnan is the southeastern tip of what was ethnically (partly) Tibetan. The map above shows where Yunnan is. Although shaped quite differently, if that map were the USA I'd be going approximately to Alabama and Mississippi ... if that helps the visualization of the geographically challenged. Yunnan is a mountainous, semi-tropical area where many tribal people live maintaining, I'm told, many of their cultural ways, including wondeful embroidery and textile work. We will visit a world heritage city, Lijang, which remains as it has been for ages.
Anticipation is wondeful! I've awakened about 2;00 the last two nights, just from sheer excitement and anticipation. I've traveled enough that I know I cannot imagine what I'm going to see and do ... but my senses will go into high gear from adrenaline rush and pure delight; everything I see will be vivid and interesting. It will all be new to me. I will learn about people living in places and ways I can't now imagine ... but they will all have smiles that make them beautiful, they will have big eyed, curious chlldren, they will be a little curious about me and I will be even more curious about them. I will feel shy about taking pictures of them but I'll try to over come that shyness and take lots of pictures, many of which I may post here.
I've met the Snow Lion guide, Jeff, tho' he probably doesn't remember me. I'll travel with three other Americans about whom I know nothing except names and the cities where they live -- but I will know a great deal about them in a few days. I've always enjoyed the people I've met on trips and expect to enjoy these people.
I do not look forward to a 13-1/2 hour trip to Beijing, a three hour wait in the airport there [tho' I know the area is a huge shoping mall, as are most airport waiting areas], nor do I relish arriving finally at Giuiyang at 11;30 at night [tho' it will be 11:30 a.m. to my body clock at that time]. But once there the excitement will kick in. And the adventure will begin!

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