Our cats are glowering at us since our luggage has been pulled out of the spare closet and our travel clothes are stacked up on the guest room bed. They know what this means. In just a few days we'll be leaving them behind, boarding a China Air jumbo jet, and heading across the Pacific Ocean.
Until recently, I had no desire to visit China. I've been hung up on China's Communist rule and political corruption, gender and social problems, and major human rights issues that have continued from the days of Mao and the Cultural Revolution. The severe pollution that threatens life in major cities continues to worry me, and the knowledge that unless China stops burning more coal than the rest of the world combined, we will never halt global warming.
After several friends expressed surprise at how closed I was about visiting China, I tried to dig deeper into understanding what was driving my biased views. The paradox is that while I've looked forward to visiting countries in Africa and Southeast Asia that have similar political injustices and unacceptable humanitarian issues, I've had a lot of prejudices about going to China.
Then last year Bruce and I saw a slide show of a trip to the Province of Sichuan, and after seeing photographs of the beautiful mountain and village scenery, and hearing how the ethnic minority groups still live in much the same way as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago, I realized I was denying myself an experience that might be truly special. Self analysis about why I'm avoiding China does not interest me and since stubbornness is not in my nature, I've decided to just let it go and have a good time. With China undergoing vast and rapid change, it should have been high on our list of places to visit, especially since the country risks losing its cultural distinction and unique identity altogether.
Last spring when we saw a fantastic itinerary for a trip to Southwest China, we immediately signed up because the primary objective is to visit the hidden civilization of the remote villages of some of China's 55 ethnic minority groups and to see the spectacular scenery that surrounds them.
|Limestone Peaks of Guilin|
|These women never cut their hair|
For three weeks we'll be traveling in the Southwest Provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, and Yunnan. Some of the sights we will see are the largest waterfall in Asia and the biggest prayer wheel in the world. We will take a bamboo raft along one of the tranquil rivers, photograph the famous limestone peaks, and dine on rice noodles in Guilin. What excites me most is visiting the traditional villages of the long hair people, talking to the beautiful women wearing the ornate silver headdresses in the village of the Qing Man Miao, and walking across the wooden wind and rain bridges constructed by the native Dong people in Zhaoxing. We will tour historic palaces, explore limestone caves, and marvel over the sculptured terrace rice fields of the mountain village of Ping'an. I hope the weather cooperates, so we can make the five hour trek to Ya Cha village at the Tiger Leaping Gorge and see the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which is the southern-most glacier in the Northern Hemisphere.
I have read that Internet and wi-fi connections can be sporadic, so please stay tuned for comments and photos on Biker Chick Gone Crazy, as Bruce and I travel the roads in rural China and experience some of the ancient customs that still prevail today.
Let the adventure begin.........