its been a while
Long overdue pictures from summer travels
see more here!
today we went on a ridiculously long hike around the zhangjiajie national forest we’re staying in. pictures cant do it justice. you can capture the landscape fairly easily from all the vista points, but there’s no way to capture the sense of vertigo and excitement you get when standing on the edge of a cliff with a 325 meter drop a couple of inches in front of you. the cliffs without any safety railings dividing you from the drop are the most breathtaking.
the hike was pretty tough. we woke up at 7 am, and set out at 8 am. it seemed like there were no flat paths anywhere. every trail we took was a set of staircases, leading us up and down the numerous mountains that make up zhangjiajie. We hiked nonstop until 7 pm, when we finally came back and had dinner. the view was without a doubt the best i’ve seen in my lifetime.
whats even crazier was our guide. he was a small 65 year old man who lives in the mountains, maybe 4-5 inches shorter than me, who knows practically everything you need to know about the area: the names of every single landmark, every single mountain, and how to get to each one. even the ones not on the map. the surprising bit is that he hiked the entire way, carrying my mom’s backpack up and down every flight of stairs, without having any shortage of breath whatsoever. and he did all of this in a pair of beat up plastic slippers that you can buy for about 2 dollars. and he went through an entire pack of cigarettes while hiking. normally, the younger guides will take you to the popular, easy to get to, crowded vista points. most of them are too lazy to walk all the way to get you to the best views. they want to save time to take you to the stores and sell you overpriced souvenirs, taking a cut for themselves. but this guy, who was about 3 times the age of most of the other guides, was in better shape than any of them, and walked us to every one of the best sights, wanting nothing more but for us to enjoy our time with him. what an incredible guy.
Laowuchang - a vista point in zhangjianie national forest
today one of my grandfather’s former student’s friend’s brother treated us to dinner. the concept of hospitality in Ji Shou, Hunan, and in the rest of China in general, is drastically different from that in America. before dinner, the friend drove us all around the province, showing us the scenic points, at points driving up to 3 hours to get to our destination. it’s just a bit surprising how far these individuals go out of their way to accomodate guests, even if they are complete strangers. there was something our hosts that struck me: the best part of travelling isn’t the sights you see or the souviniers you buy, it’s the people you meet and the friends you make. everyone becomes extremely well connected by travelling around china.
it feels like one of the keystones of hospitality in china is taking your guests out to eat. every single host we’ve had (for the most part they are family or friends of family or friends of friends of family), has treated us to at least one meal of local cuisine. the other is buying outrageously large amounts of beer.
i’ve been meaning to make a post about the driving here in china, and the culture surrounding it. it’s very different here in asia. that’ll probably be the theme of my next post.
just got off a 12 hour train ride from guang zhou to huai hua
the untouched landscape of asia is pretty amazing
tom yum goong made from scratch
Lemongrass, galangal ginger, kaffir lime leaves, mushrooms, chilis, and tomatoes are first cooked in water, and then the prawns are added, and finally coconut milk to give it the creamy texture. Garnished with coriander leaves (cilantro) and green onion.