Travels in China: Photos:

Daily Log :: Travels in China

I kept a small "pocket memo" book next to my passport under my shirt. When I arrived, it had my flight information, travel insurance number, and Molly's phone number. As I traveled, the book next to my heart grew with short descriptions of each day's activities. Here, then, is my microtravelogue, edited only to clarify shorthand. Links will carry you to relevant photos by Molly and me.

January 26th, 2008 (flight from Denver to Minneapolis to Tokyo)
Perpetually mid-afternoon for ten hours. Plane shows National Geographic special on polar bears and loss of ice. Flying, I'm contributing to the loss. The second MSP-NRT flight had one person per row. Good for sneeping.
January 27th, 2008 (flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong, sleep in Hong Kong)
NRT has world's politest security staff. I have more beard than the rest of Northwest flight #1 combined. Bus A21 HKG -> Nathan Rd. Recognizeable Hong Kong. Chung King Mansions: HK$180 for water closet + sleep closet + turn around closet. Tired but sleep in fits. Window goes to air shaft in middle of tower.
January 28th, 2008 (Kowloon, Shenzhen, Guangzhou)
Before noon in Kowloon five days after full moon. Swoon! Birds and palmist in Kowloon Park. Unusual Cantonese gooey breakfast. Curry beef donut very yum. Incensed Taoist temples. Kittehs selling fruit. Cross to Shenzhen train station. Army-looking security guards block access to long distance trains. 200 kmph to Guangzhou. Kevin helps navigate metro and asks my email. Guangzhou train station is full of unmoving travelers. No one knows where China Southern building is. 24-hour air ticket window, 850¥ gives promise of sun.
January 29th, 2008 (Guangzhou, Kunming)
Easy airport, easy bus, take it easy around Kunming. Buy pu'er tea from cute guy. Across the bridge noodles and a show, I win dancing girl's heart.
January 30th, 2008 (Kunming: Xi Shan (West Hill))
No protein for breakfast. Crucified duck market. Bus to Xi Shan. Hike tangent. Trailside radish and boiled egg. Delicious hillside meal of unusual veg. Taxis show way to Dragon Gate. Taoist gods in cliffside, mineature stone forest, successful return.
January 31st, 2008 (Kunming to Dali)
Eat the lotus root. Less crazy train station but night to Dali sold out. Bus thru land like New Mexico but with water. Very few private cars on freeway. Honk means "passing?" Perhaps China should discover left mirror. Dinos on building sides. Very sneezy and snotty. Need tissues from under bus. Creepy guy chased us, trying to get us to go to guesthouse we'd already selected. Boggle by hand. Chinese should discover two-pane glass.
February 1st, 2008 (Dali)
Lots of tasty things for two kuai each, including Muslim bread. Hats and shoes don't fit. Wonderful chops. Bike through rice patties and lakeside village where all kids know "Hello," then run or throw rocks. So many pictures of traditional roofs and alleys. Dali south gate blasts dance music.
February 2nd, 2008 (Dali to Lijiang)
Dali bus stop confusion. Diverse grizzled faces of old men watch us eat fruit in Xiaguan. Lonely Planet recommends Mama Naxi - fantastic call! Great fellow travelers.
February 3rd, 2008 (Lijiang, Shuhe)
Meet Wei Wei in Shuhe. Streets are wider, canals bubblier, merchants more laid back. Drink tea with Wei Wei's friends, who suggest Chinese names for me: Shi Huzi (Beardy Stone), Shi Tai Xian (Moss Stone), Shi Po Tian (Stone Breaks the Sky), Shi Wen Lu (Ask Road Direction). Djembe, improvised fire percussion, dancing, ethnoelectronic music with Shi San the groovy Tibetan. Hot pot dinner with lots of English and Mandarin.
February 4th, 2008 (Tiger Leaping Gorge)
Hike Tiger Leaping Gorge, take 140 pictures. Stay at Tea Horse Guesthouse with Margo, Neil, Phil, Phil, Colin, Ryan, Bertrand, and Igo. Delicacies like Vegafabu Fried Rice and Yark Pizza. Hot tub temperature electric blanket ends a warm day of perfect light.
February 5th, 2008 (Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lijiang)
Hike down to Tina's Guesthouse, lighting not as good but waterfalls amazing. Quintessential minibus back to Qiaotou and Lijiang. Cards with laowai at mama's.
February 6th, 2008 (Lijiang, Jinghong)
Dingle-dangle and hulusi shopping in Lijiang. New Year's Eve dinner at vegetarian table. Charm and bananas from Mama. Short flight to Banna. Little kids shooting fireworks.
February 7th, 2008 (Jinghong)
Restless night of fireworks and roosters. Eat Thai twice. Visit temple, market, botanic gardens. Eat many new fruits. Taxi to 24-hour hot spring. Pet Molly for hours and hours and hours.
February 8th, 2008 (Jinghong, Damenglong)
Bumpy bus to Damenglong. Visit Hinayana pagodas. Eat and talk with Europeans in town. Night of gastrointestinal revolt.
February 9th, 2008 (Damenglong)
Simple sugars breakfast. Walk up dusty road. Watch temple cleanings. English lessons for a monk, lunch with his mom. Nonverbal frustration. Make up with crunchy dinner and lots of petting.
February 10th, 2008 (Damenglong, Jinghong)
Rude smoking bus driver says Xiaojie is no fun. Escape sun at Thai restaurant and Forest Café which wouldn't sell Keith Baker in dutch. Fruit market, blind massage, too much for a crappy hotel room, cross Mekong.
February 11th, 2008 (Jinghong, Kunming)
Jinghong to Kunming bus full of beautiful hills, first grade tunnels, tollbooths, and unpleasant digestion. Elephant Passage, Don't Blow. Hard bed and upset stomach.
February 12th, 2008 (Kunming, train to Guilin)
Three hours eating Indian, an hour drinking fruit juice and listening to The Cranberries. Sleeper car (mostly) to ourselves for ramen, Boggle, and back rubbing.
February 13th, 2008 (Guilin)
Cloudy karst from train and street. Osimanthus tea with a beard admirer. Umbrella inspection and Kung Pao Chicken #1.
February 14th, 2008 (Guilin, Li River, Yangshuo)
Valentine's Li River cruise with required shopping experience. Black and white cloudy karst. Yangshuo wanderings. Dinner and Elvis at Minnie Mao's, toffee bananas at Minority Café.
February 15th, 2008 (Yangshuo)
Pet Molly for hours and hours and hours. 4:30 breakfast, lunch, and dinner of red and green chili. Day without clouds frittered. "Bamboo" raft on the river by evening. Buy cards and chat with Irish/Canadians.
February 16th, 2008 (Yangshuo, Guilin, Xiamen)
Awake early, slowly motivate for a bike ride. Dragon girls demand 20元 for a few alleys. Step to the moon, be careful. Singing taxi driver of Guilin. Plane waiting.
February 17th, 2008 (Xiamen)
Yummy doughy breakfast. Ri Yue Gu soaking in tea, herbs, ginger, curry, fish. Eat durian pastries with the sharks. Tea and counting with neighbors.
February 18th, 2008 (Xiamen)
Climb Nan Putuo Temple hill while burning incense. Caves of Buddhist inaction figures. Muslim bread, lakeside Karl Marx. Neighbor tea and peanuts without translator. Tandem shiau kau.
February 19th, 2008 (Xiamen)
Early school bus. Try to explain curling in 30 seconds. Nap collapse after Wuyi Shan tea gift. Chalkboard goegraphy lesson. Night chat with Addy.
February 20th, 2008 (Xiamen)
Kittehs of Gulangyu. Eel and shrimp maidan jing! Practice tea. Xinjiang birthday dinner. Night before lantern festival.
February 21st, 2008 (Xiamen)
Wander alleys. Air who? (Buy an erhu.) Search for Chinese Magic succeeds. Jackfruit chips for dinner while fireworks explode with less frequency than New Year.
February 22nd, 2008 (Xiamen)
Botanic gardens and boulder calligraphy. Succulent pictures and smoothies. High quality liang kuai dingle-dangle extravaganza. "Blind" massage for two hours, jing! Find bus station and buy ticket. Smiling woman massage with Sichuan noodles and fresh fruit.
February 23rd, 2008 (Xiamen, bus to Hong Kong)
Loaf about. Gift wrap and color code. Tearful goodbyes. Pseudosleep bus ride.
February 24th, 2008 (Macau, Hong Kong)
Six passport stamps. Where's a luggage locker? Bread products and wandering 'neath yellow balconies in Maacu. Church of Saint Dominic and A-Ma Temple. Barfing Chinese. Up and down SoHo. Skyline by night. Live rock "All Night Long." Solitude of Kowloon Park by night. Flamingoes stay up later than Hong Kong on Sunday.
February 25th, 2008 (flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo to Minneapolis to Denver)
Full flihgts. NRT -> MSP next to picky Indian woman. TV I can understand: changing Castro guard. Six guys with beards as soon as I get to Denver International Airport.