The best China travel stories from around the net

by James Weir
Posted: December 5th, 2011 | Updated: July 25th, 2012 | Comments
China travel features_china travel news_china travel blogs_china travel stories Eating in Yunnan We read a lot about travel over the course of one week and, after much sifting and sorting, we've rounded up a few of our favorites. From news and reviews to great blog posts, unusual destinations and travel stories, read on for our picks. >>> If you're lucky enough to find yourself down in Yunnan, finding things to do will be the least of your problems. You'll eat more fantastic food than you'll know what to do with and see more staircase-like rice terraces and majestic mountaintops than you'll know how to capture. Another thing that Yunnan has in droves (like all of China) is a history made up of pockets of foreign influence, investment and infrastructure. Today, the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway is a barely used relic of a more colonial time when the French had a variety of interests in the region, and the tracks on the Chinese side are used infrequently by freight trains alone, the commuter service having ceased almost a decade ago. In Vietnam, the railway still boasts some commuter services between the border and Hanoi, but still sees only a fraction of the traffic that it did during its heyday. But the tracks remain, no matter how rarely used. And the line runs through some spectacular terrain; old, beautiful bridges over gushing snow-melt streams, and tunnels hewn through mountainsides. Now that there is no passenger service on the Chinese tracks, the folks at Go Kunming suggest taking a bike trip along the railroad. Best traveled in two days, the route boasts several sections where you can bike right along parallel to the rails, plus they have suggestions about where to stay, what to see and how to make it all happen.
  • Before we move on from Yunnan, bikes and Go Kunming, let's take a moment to consider the possibility of Honghezhou. Though the author's trip starts out shaky and not without complications, the moral appears to be this: persevere and be rewarded. The trip is not for the faint of heart, to be sure, but if you've got the quadriceps for that kind of bike riding, by all means get out there and get some.
  • Since the first two links are exercise heavy, let's shift gears and check out an easier way to get around. This guide to driving in China will give you all the information you'll need to get yourself on something propelled by the fruits of this earth instead of your own labors.
  • While we traverse this country and view temples with the gaze of the curious and interested, it is important to remember that all is not healthy and good, in terms of Chinese Buddhism. This article from Sascha Matuszak on the state of Buddhism in China is valuable because it encourages critical thinking and discourages voyeuristic gawking. Remember, where there is now a jar for money and gaudy displays of alleged-multiculturalism, there was once worship and true harmony. And while true worship is less easily located than the theme park style now so commonly found in temples and monasteries, it is still there, and thriving.
  • There is now a high-speed ferry that shuttles passengers from Pingtan, on the coast of Fujian Province, across the straits to Taiwan. The Pingtan the vacation destination it seems it will inevitably become.
  • And finally, for those aspiring Chinese novelists, take solace: at least one portion of the publishing industry is growing. As travel becomes a more affordable luxury for many Chinese, the lifestyle of exploration and personal growth has begun to take hold in the psyche of many here on the mainland. As such, the market for personal travel narratives in China is booming, and many are rushing to catch their literary train to the proverbial hotel of gold. Go for it, I say! Write, write, like a soaring angel!
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