We recently rode our bicycle from Chengdu across the SW China mountains (Himalayas and Tibetan plateau). We began in Chengdu and visited the Giant Panda Breeding Center. Lucky, our stuffed panda, made the visit with and was not sure what to think of the really really big (to him) pandas. Tai Shan is leaving National Zoo today for the Giant Panda Breeding Center, Chengdu, China. Video of Tia Shan at the National Zoo made him the most popular Panda ever. Thousands tuned in daily to watch his clumsy antics.
There has been no Internet in Far West China (Xinjiang) since the violence between Han Chinese and the native Uighurs. Some reports have as many as 500,000 Hans leaving Xinjiang since the violence, and the Chinese government now allowing Hans to sell to anyone other than a Han if they leave. This could put a big time kibosh on the governments’s plans to flood the remote province with Hans.
Don’t take a predetermined tour. The tour leaders are sure you don’t want to meet the real people, but a sanitized version of folk presentations. Travel independently, and don’t always stay in the travel destinations, the tourist towns; stay in smaller towns or villages, spread your money around. Look that street vendor in the eye while you negotiate some mystery meat on a stick. Return her smile. Not only will you have more fun, more memories, but that street vendor will remember that some Americans actually cared enough to want to see her village, and how she lives.
Bob and Claire Rogers have moved their Shangri-la, 2009 Asian Adventure blogs to a First to Last blog format. Relive their adventures from Tibetan China through Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.