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Brian’s Travel Diary

Friday, 26 Jan 2007

Location: Yangshou, China

MapYangshou is hailed as most backpackers favorite place in all of China. It certaily is a quaint little town, especially by Chinese standards. What was once a respectable fishing town of 30,000 people has boomed into a town of 300,000 peddlers and souvenier pushers. Its the definition of tourist trap. At least tourism is a pollutionless industry, but it doesnt make for fun, interesting travel and real cultural interaction. It was actually a challenge to find good Chinese dishes there because they cater to the western pallet so much. Yangshou has some very interesting geography that make it very asthetically appealing.

Just outside of Yangshou in Long Ji are the terrace fields owned by the Yao Chinese. They basically put rice paddies into the side of the mountain which go as high as 1,180 meters. The wet season would have made for some pretty spectacular scenery with each terrace filled with water, but hiking the dragons backbone was a very welcome breath of fresh air in the smogless mountainside. I dont think that Long Ji will continue to have that "untouched" look for long. The Yao are turning their mountain paradise into a "resort town" and there are numerous construction all throughout the small town putting up hostels and shops. They have clearly recognized their historical culture as a revenue driving venture. The sad part was the lack of pride in keeping their environment clean. As crystal clear as the laks and streams are (for now) they are still littered with soda cans, candy wrappers and plastic bags. I cant imagine it will stay as beautiful as it is for much longer with all the rapid expansion underway.

Getting to and from Long Ji was a test of nerves and patience. No sooner did my mom tell me about some 60 minutes special of China having the highest vehicular death rate did Beau and I hope in a short bus for 4 hours. Its easy to see why China has the number one rating after about 10 minutes of driving. What the Chinese lack in driving ability they make up for in horn usage. We could pretty much determine how far we have travelled by the number of horn beeps our driver has made. Anywhere between 1- and 15 beeps on a highway is about a half kilometer and in the city its about a beep per foot. Four hours of horn induced migranes later we arrived at the foothills of Long Ji. It was worth the ride. Too bad we had to go back.