I’m standing at the bottom of the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan Province. Next to me, the JinSha river rushes its way down the enormous canyon it’s made for itself.
I should be filled with wonder. But I am exhausted. I just wanna go home.
And my way back is a ladder.
A rickety ladder nailed to a vertical cliff.
Rice: the fuel to the factory of the world.
There is a place in China, where simple rice farming is made an exquisite work of art. Home to the Zhuang people, this ingenious step-irrigation system was built 650 years ago and is one of the most treasured secrets of the Chinese countryside.
By far one of my favourite places in China, as you can probably guess. This is countryside unlike any other. Life in the rice fields is set against this glorious backdrop of peaks in every direction. The karst peaks are…bizarre in that they rise at right-angles directly up from the otherwise completely flat land.
James Hilton’s “Shangri-la” is a mystical harmonious valley isolated from the world by the Tibetan Plateau, and home to people who live years beyond the normal lifespan, in peaceful harmony with the earth. Continue reading
Meditation is the answer to so many of life’s problems, so I hear. And it is not just for cloistered shaved monks anymore – more and more people are taking a week off for meditation retreats now and then, sometimes as regularly as twice a year. I was curious, so I took the opportunity to go to the Dipabhāvan Centre in Thailand over Chinese New Year, and I’m glad I did.
The offer of a free room and free food would be a difficult one to turn down for most travellers, even those not normally inclined to volunteer.
First milestone reached: six months in China. What does that feel like? What am I supposed to feel? Acclimatised? Adapting to a new culture, apparently, is supposed to happen in stages:
Step 1: The Honeymoon Stage
When you first arrive in a new culture, differences are intriguing and you may feel excited, stimulated and curious. Like any new experience, there’s a feeling of euphoria when you first arrive and you’re in awe of the differences you see and experience. You feel excited, stimulated, enriched.