CHINA 2019 June 12 - 24
Beijing and the Yunnan - Lijiang to Shangri La
Much THANKS & CONGRATULATIONS to these wanderers:
Mala Barnes, Sharon Fate, Steve Fuller, Mary Ann Goldstein,
Linda McNicholas, Jie Nightingale, Nia Nightingale, Nikka Nightingale,
Nora Nightingale, Jennifer O'Connor, Catherine Pease, Neil Pinto,
Shelly S Pinto, Wyatt Roberts, Annabelle Schneider, Nancy Schneider,
Yul Schneider, Elizabeth O Stephens, James Stephens,
Candice Woelk, Judy Zimmerman
This is a land where ancient sites built by powerful dynasties sit amid modern skyscrapers, soaring mountains shimmer against vast deserts, and rural villages lost in time contrast with fast-paced cities thirsting for global prestige. Among it all, well over a billion people converge with their numerous cultures, languages and cuisines- Audley Travel
With its long history evident in Ming-era palaces and temples, juxtaposed with modern skyscrapers and cutting-edge architecture, Beijing is a microcosm of China’s stark contrasts and contradictions. At the heart of it all is the Forbidden City, a vast complex of palaces, gardens and halls dating to the 15th century, once only accessible to emperors and their families. On the outskirts of the city are peaceful gardens where, as you stroll among the trees, you come across traditional halls and temples.
Modern-day Beijing is on show in the bustling markets selling electronics, gaudy trinkets and deep-fried crickets. Meanwhile, admiring the sleek design of the Olympic Park’s buildings is like glimpsing the future.
From as early as the medieval Yuan dynasty, Beijing’s residents lived in adjoining houses connected by a labyrinth of narrow lanes and courtyards, known as hutongs. Many have since been destroyed, but some have been protected and still stand. Exploring them provides a stark contrast to the grand palaces and manicured gardens of China’s rich and powerful.
The intimate nature of hutongs means close-knit communities were and still are formed within them. As you wind down the lanes, you may notice residents gossiping and children playing, see the public bathrooms they share and come across local shops.
Yunnan is home to a third of all China’s minority groups, making it a fantastic place to visit and learn about China’s indigenous tribes. What’s more, its natural beauty is just as diverse as its culture – boasting everything from lush tropical rainforests in the south to majestic snowcapped peaks in the north. Stray as far off the tourist trail as possible and capture incredible memories.
At 800 years old, Lijiang holds plenty of history and has its share of tales to tell. It is notable for the traditional Chinese rooftops that fill the immediate landscape of the town, as well as its enchanting narrow-laned cobblestone streets lined with shops and restaurants.
Lijiang is predominantly Naxi, due to its historical importance as their once kingdom. They are also a prominent population in many surrounding areas. We will have the opportunity to visit villages and witness Naxi women going about their daily activities.
The fabled Shangri-La is actually a real place, and is just as stunning as described by James Hilton in his 1933 novel Lost Horizon. We will drive over 100 miles from Lijiang to get there, climbing to an altitude of 9,843 feet, passing through farming communities along the way.. One of the stops is Tiger Leaping Gorge – a canyon on the tributary of the Yangtze River. One of the deepest canyons in the world, so impressive indeed - from a legend that says a tiger once leaped across the gorge at – you guessed it – Tiger Leaping Stone. Yes, it’s a tourism hot-spot for good reason: this classic site is definitely a must-see when in Yunnan.