28 August, 2007

No.15: Guizhou - Bonsai Garden

In Anshun, on the way to Huangguoshu Waterfall, we had to walk past the Bonsai Garden.It has an impressive number of Bonsai collection. Apparently, for three or more consecutive years, these trees were grown from dry and old tree roots under artificial support.

25 August, 2007

No.14: Guizhou - Huangguoshu Waterfall

Huangguoshu Waterfall
12th July 2007
Guizhou is located in the southwest of China. It’s one of the provinces that have high percentage of minority people. After 26 hours journey, I finally reached Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou at around 7:00 pm. Guiyang is named the “City of Gardens” because of the abundance of flowers and trees due to its moist subtropical climate. I was warmly received by my friend who came all the way from Duyun, a small city about 3 hours away by train. We checked into a hotel and finally had a long restful night.

I would have loved to rest the next day, but my friend has planned for us to go to Anshun, located 150 km from Guiyang. We set out early the next morning (yawn…) in a (thankfully) comfortable train that takes about 4 hours. On reaching Anshun, we first checked into a fairly nice hotel and then headed for Huangguoshu Waterfall about an hours ride by the local bus and then by a bus shuttle. I really enjoyed the bus ride as we passed beautiful mountains with lush greenery covering the hillside.

We made a detour first to Doupotang, a fairly small waterfall 1 km upstream of Huangguoshu and then passed through clusters of minor waterfalls forming fantastic natural views.

Duopotang Waterfall

Huangguoshu is the largest waterfall in Asia and the third largest in the world (As claimed by the Chinese). It is 243 feet (74 meters) high and 266 feet (81 meters) wide. The thunder of the falls can be heard for some distance. It has three different vantage points offering the best views.

We reached our destination late in the afternoon. It’s a rather long walk from the entrance gate to the waterfall. We had to hike down long fight of steps. It’s a good thing I took my umbrella along as the force of the waterfall causes light shower. It’s very wet, slippery and dark (because of the thick mass of trees) The mist from the waterfall rises up like thick cloud to the village above, opposite to the waterfall. Unfortunately, the water was murky as it rained two/three days back. Yet, I’m thankful for the opportunity to add this to my list of "Places I’ve visited".

21 August, 2007

No.13: Guizhou - On the train

10th July 2007
This summer holiday witnesses the highest record of travel influx in China. It amounts to 10 million person per day! Incredible-isn’t it? During this peak season, the price for plane tickets doubled and getting hold of train ticket becomes a matter of great concern for many students and travelers alike. The number of days when tickets can be bought ahead,differs with different provinces. The tickets cannot be ‘booked’ or sold before the days fixed by the different Provincial Governments.

Being fully aware of the situation, I still decided to travel to the southern part of China this time. It’s a decisive choice I have to make every summer holiday. The choice to stay in the ‘almost’ nonfunctional (institution, restaurants, supermarkets and other shops) campus during the holidays or travel in over-crowded train or busses or pricy plane. The latter choice mostly outweighs the former one :)
Train Ticket
I love traveling by train and I actually prefer it to planes or busses. It’s less noisy than flying by plane, less bumpy than busses or cars and I can thoroughly enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way. With regard as to 'where' to travel, I had various options and endless time to kill (2 months). I didn’t chalk out any clear-cut plan. I just intended to head out for the first 'planned' destination, stay there as long as I felt like it, and then undertake another (unplanned) journey. This way it would be more time consuming as well as exciting.

Travellers sitting in the aisle
At the invitation of my colleague, my first destination was Guiyang the capital of Guizhou province, which takes 26 hours by train from Xi'an. As suspected, I could not get hold of the sleeper ticket at first and so I had to sit in the hard-seat in an over-crowded compartment.Even the aisles and areas around the toilets and smoking area were full of people standing and squatting on the floor.I informed the conductor to give me a sleeper ticket as soon as it's available. I guess noticing that I’m a lone foreign female traveler, he must have had compassion on me, and eventually gave me the first sleeper ticket available after roughing up for about 2 hours. Of course, I had to pay more for it. What a relief! There were less people and more room in the sleeper compartment and I was very grateful indeed. Once comfortably on my bunk, I could then relax and eventually go to sleep.

Hard-seat compartment

I have the tendency to be elated whenever I travel to new places. The night before I reached Guiyang, though I’ve researched and learned all I could about Guiyang, I still recollect thinking what kind of people, food, climate etc I’m going to see, feel and experience. Gaining knowledge from books and internet about places is totally different from experiencing it first hand. I was full of anticipation and eagerness to see and know more about the place I’m about to visit…this is life…I smiled…then I drifted off to sleep..
Hard-sleeper compartment

17 August, 2007

No.12: Henan - Longmen Grottoes

Longmen Grottoes
(3rd October 2004)
Though I had a months' break from blogging, I think it best to wrap up the Henan Trip before turning my attention to the recent ones. Let me get back to my Luoyang tour. I've written about the Shaolin Temple visit and I'd also like to mention our Longmen Grottoes visit. Since one day is quite enough for visiting the Shaolin Temple, my friends and I felt that we could then spend our time going to other places of interest in and around Luoyang. We decided to go to the Longmen Shiku (Dragon Gate Grottoes) the day after we went to the Shaolin Temple.

I wasn't sure what the Longmen Grottoes was all about. Is it a park, Lake, museum or Temple? As my initial intention to go to Henan was solely focused on visiting the Shaolin Temple, I wasn't sure what to expect. Neither did I undertake any research to find out places other than the Shaolin Temple prior to our going.

We took a taxi and on reaching the entrance, we bought our tickets for 80 RMB at the Dragon Gate.I soon found out the Longmen Grottoes to be an ancient Buddhist Cave art. It was named the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in November 2000. It is located just 13 Kilometers south of Luoyang.
With the Yi River washing along the gorge, it has a series of caves flanked on both the mountainside. In it were numerous carvings of Buddha. Apparently there were more than 100,000 statues, some small ones and the biggest, as tall as 56.23 feet. But mind you, if you ever plan to go there make sure that you have comfortable walking shoes as the whole place covered a kilometer from north to south.

The Qianxi Temple, the Three Binyang Caves, Ten Thousand Buddha Caves, Laolong Cave, the Lotus Cave, Fengxian Temple etc., in Longmen are awesome. Especially, once finding out that some of these carvings dated back to 493 AD, makes me wonder and rejoice on how we humans are specially designed and created with wonderful craftsmanship and unique talents.

No.11: Things I came across....2

It's summer holiday and I travelled for a little over a month. I've now come back and hope to be active in my 'blorld' again.Wanna share these pictures I came across in the TRAIN. Some of the pictures turned out to be a bit blurry as I took these while the train is in motion. Kinda hard naaa......but I just couldn't help my trigger-happy fingers from clicking away once more. Trut-trut-trut!
Below - Near the wash-basin.

On the door-frame of the coach.