For 30 years China was closed to foreigner travellers and it is only since the 1980s that visas have been issued to independent travellers. Traveller Justine Shapiro visits just four of the 21 provinces in China – Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan.
With Yangshuo in the Guangxi province as her base, Justine heads for the hills to what the Chinese consider to be the most beautiful area in the whole world – Moon Hill. Moon Hill is a wonderous limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole overlooking the lush green pastures and fields that lay before it. After cycling through the surrounding countryside, Justine heads back into Yangshuo where she visits local food markets to buy ingredients for a dinner of delights – including snake and dog.
Justine takes a short flight to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province. Guiyang is a major intersection for the rail network and Justine begins her trip to the remote areas of the province here. Her main destination is the isolated mountain village of Lung Ga, home to the Long Horn Miao tribe. The Miao are named after the wooden horns which the women wear in their hair to represent the strength of an ox. For special ceremonies the Long Horn Miao wrap hairpieces woven from their ancestors’ hair around their horns.
The spectacular Huangguoshu Waterfalls are also located in Guizhou. The falls are the largest in Asia and not surprisingly, the sound of the falls can be heard from miles around.
Chengdu is a bustling metropolis and one of the liveliest cities in Sichuan, the largest province in China. Justine is unable to get into the spirit until a visit to the Chengdu University Hospital of Chinese Traditional Medicine and a morning of acupuncture sees the end of her traveller’s aches and pains. In the night antique markets of Chengdu, Justine puts her bargaining skills to the test – and succeeds!
Chengdu is also home to the Giant Panda Research Centre. Justine is has the opportunity to make friends with the panda cubs and cuddles up to a six week old baby.
A bumpy journey, following the road that was part of the route taken by the Communists on the Long March of 1934, takes Justine toSongpan, the final destination. She ends her journey with a horse trek in the breathtaking Ximending mountain range.
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