sxsw china, cliffs notes edition

china2009 travel

krazy karst

Holy smokes, time flies.

Apologies in advance for the terseness of this entry; I’m more
taking notes for myself to maybe expand upon later, but the
activity to time density has been extremely high that I’m already
starting to forget some of the things we did.

Tip o’ the hat to…

Stone Forest Scenic Area in Kunming. It’s a magical place
absolutely littered with alien karst formations up to 100 feet
tall. A climber’s wet dream (although sadly it’s not permitted).
I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.

enter the dragon

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang. We started the day off
watching a show at the base of the mountain, which I’d normally
be pretty skeptical about, but this show was produced by the same
guy who did the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics. The
production quality was amazingly high, and the show was really
nice. Afterwards, we took a gondola up to a saddle on the
mountain at 4506m. Mom and dad stayed in the lower area, with mom
sucking down O’s, and I managed to get to the high view point of
4680m, bum foot and all.

average age: 55

Shannon Grand Canyon in Shangri-La. We stayed in the bottom of a

deep river canyon, very reminiscent of the Black Canyon of the
Gunnison. I think the walls were 600 or 700m in height, and a mix
of crumbly choss and decent granite. No climbing signs littered
the place, but I’m not sure if that was simply to deter stupid

good job, mom and dad!

Shangri-La. We’re staying in a hotel at 3360m, the old town is
pretty cool, and people here wear the native dress for reals.
This is an autonomous region of China with a heavy Tibetan
influence, and it feels way more exotic than any other city we’ve
been in so far.

Wag o’ the finger to…

Tourist trap shopping mazes. Apparently it’s common to set up a
giant shopping center with one entrance that forces you to walk
in a giant maze, one direction of travel only. Along the way,
shop employees bark at you the whole time to buy stuff. The only
exit is approximately 2k away and you have to walk through the
entire thing to get out. Sucksville.

Spirulina factory in Lijiang. Another tourist trap that we got
bused to and forced to listen to marketing spiel in a closed
room, similar to a time share pitch. This time, it was for the
miracle and wonder of spirulina. The sales pitches work though,
because our group bought heaps upon heaps of the stuff.

Fake tourist trap villages. The Chinese love to build
re-enactment villages, similar to colonial Williamsburg. Let’s
face it, these things suck regardless of the country or culture.

Shangri-La. The name of this city was renamed from Zhongdian a
few years ago simply for marketing’s sake. The amount of new
fake-old construction is staggering and obvious, but it must be

That’s it for now. Tomorrow, Shanghai!

Tibetan prayer flags