Silk Road by MGB – China Stops Day 30 to Day 46

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

We’re at Day 53 and almost across China in our long trek from Bangkok to London (well to Abingdon, where they once made MGs). Here are a few more of our China stops en route:

▲ On Day 30 we were at Huangshan, one of China’s best known mountain sites and the view from the lookout point known as Monkey Watching the Sea of Clouds you could certainly appreciate where those misty, ethereal mountain views in Chinese art originate. The fact that it was a misty, ethereal – OK rainy – day probably helped.

◄ We rode up the Western Cablecar to the starting point of a walk across the mountains, along with a great number of domestic Chinese tourists because it was a public holiday.



◄ Not all of them walking, sedan chairs were available and you would have thought they were there for the elderly or somebody who suffered an injury on the walk. The young couple in these sedan chairs were neither elderly or injured, or embarrassed for that matter. The agilely hopped out to take photos at each viewpoint.

▲ Days 32 and 33 I was in Shanghai and I’ve already posted about the huge increase in the number of rental bicycles in Shanghai. I was also involved in the launch of the new Chinese edition of The Lonely Planet Story while I was there, we started the day’s events at the Shanghai Arts & Crafts Museum where there was a display of art from the Mao era. These wood carved children includes one in the middle demonstrating Mao’s statement about ‘power coming out of the barrel of a gun.’

▲ We started Day 35 at the morning opening ceremony at the gates to the Confucius Temple in Qufu, it’s the home town of China’ s great thinker.

▲ The afternoon was devoted to more mountain walking, this time at Taishan, another of China’s great mountain sites. There were certainly plenty of options for getting up and down the mountain.

◄ I rode the cablecar to the top and then walked down the many stairs, particularly the steep descent (I’m glad it wasn’t a climb for me) down the Path of 18 Bends.

▲ On Days 37 and 38 we were in Beijing and again I was involved with the Lonely Planet Story launch, but I also did some sightseeing including catching one of the regular drumming performances in the Drum Tower.

▲ And then wandering the hutongs, Beijing’s famous back alleys including Nanlougu Xiang, an amazing street and another ‘this is not a developing world city’ reminder. It looks extraordinarily flash and stylish. I found a card shop with some great Mao-era post cards, a couple of primary school pictures and one announcing ‘We Must Liberate Taiwan.’

On Day 40 we reached Pingyao, I’d spent a couple of days there a few years ago. On Day 43 we were in Xian, where I also cycled around the City Wall, then on Days 44 and 45 we reached amazing Maijishan and La Shao.

▲ On the night of Day 45 we’d reached Lanzhou, another surprisingly attractive modern city and another place with a population of over two million which I’d never heard of before. As the sun went down I climbed the stairs to the White Pagoda Temple and looked back across the Yellow River to the centre of the city.

▲It got darker as I climbed higher.

▲ On Day 46 we reached Xining, by now we were moving into another China, it was getting increasingly drier and the first signs of the Islamic world started to appear. Like the Dongguan Grand Mosque which combined trad Middle East architecture with with Chinese elements, note those Chinese roofs. Day 47 took us on the most spectacular drive of the whole trip so far, climbing to 3800 metres over mountain passes way higher than anywhere you would drive in Switzerland.

▲ Zhangye, where we ended that mountain driving day, featured the Great Buddha Temple with its 35-metre long reclining Buddha. OK, it’s not as big as the Wat Po reclining Buddha in Bangkok, but still impressively large and nicely dimly lit and uncrowded.

▲ Snow-capped mountains make a backdrop to the city skyline from the top of the Wooden Pagoda, also in Zhangye.