Everybody knows it is so huge. One could not possibly visit the whole of China within one's adult life, probably even within one's life. How many "Malaysia" can fit into China? You make a guess.
Years before, when digital cameras were still non-existent, a friend and I visited Kunming and Chengdu - two cities within the Yunan Province. A Chinese Muslim accompanied us on this trip. Through this Chinese friend, we flew to Lhasa the capital of Tibet. In my possession are hundreds of slides I took. We visited the Muslim communities of Kunming, Chengdu and Lhasa. Yes, I was pleasantly surprised in the heartland of Lhasa, in the heart of this Buddhist capital, there are Muslims and we visited a mosque there.
For those who miserably failed their Geography in school, please see map below to orientate yourself with China.
Yunan is a province in China, with common international borders with Vietnam, Laos, Burma and Bhutan. Due to its proximity with South East Asia, Yunan is therefore the most convenient entry point for overland adventurers to visit China. There had been, therefore, numerous overland trips by 4-wheelers, superbikers and "not so superbikers" (I mean bicyclists) by Malaysians seeking to join the ranks of the modern Ibn Battuttas. Sadly, I am not one of them.......yet!
Quite recently, a friend Hj Khailani (a rather ethusiastic traveller) tempted me to re-visit Kunming. Having felt rather guilty turning him down on a promised cycling trip to Lexiago last year, I was more than ready to atone my guilt.
It will not be just Kunming. We planned to visit Shangri-la up north of Yunan and see what it has to offer. We will stay in Shangri-la for 3 nights. Then we will journey by road down to the Tiger Leaping Gorge before overnighting in Lijiang and visit it's renowned ancient city. From Lijiang, we will fly down to Kunming and drive straight to Dongchuan, a twisting 160kms to see the famous landscape of Lexiago.
To further atone my guilt, my wife will accompany me on this trip. Some say this is a "bodek" trip for future "visas" to continue my cycling tours!! Hj Khailani will also bring his wife - two men and their wives minus their bicycles.
So, once again to those readers where geography is not their favorite subject, please locate Shangrila, Lijiang, Kunming and Dongchuan from the map below. Dongchuan is slightly off north of Kunming. I hope your compass bearing is OK even if you have failed your Geography !!!
We left KLIA on Sunday 10th April and returned on Sunday 17th April. In the upcoming blogs, I shall record our experience of the places we have visited. Stay tuned.