November 10, 2011

Itchy feet

gansu mountains
Originally uploaded by macchi.

I just finished reading a book on urban development in China (this one) in which a Dutch journalist and architect explore the inland second tier cities in China. All cities that most of us have never heard of.

I have visited two of them (Xi'an & Lanzhou) and my work has offices in another two. But the rest..... more than any other book this one makes me want to travel again!

But also, it's made me realise again that China is so diverse - and I tend to forget that when I travel for work as I'm always stuck in the same cities, and in the same Central Business Districts. And apart from the cities (where, admittedly, so many Chinese people now live) the countryside is stunning.

This picture is taking in the mountains in Gansu province, pretty much in the middle of the country. I was on my way to a Tibetan settlement, Xiahe, which was one of the highlights of my trip exploring (a small part of) China. After Xiahe, I continued west to Jiayuguan and Dunhuang, where the oldest Buddhist caves in China are located. Stunning.

But it's further West still that I want to go. Xinjiang, Urumqi, Kashgar, the Taklaman desert and more. I don't know why this part of the country fascinates me so much - maybe the emptiness, isolation, but also (the decreasing) sense of non-Chineseness that I expect the find there. I need to be quick though. What I'm reading about Kashgar isn't good.... So hopefully, a next non-work trip to China will include that part of this immense country.

But first, my Flickr collection will next year finally start to include some pictures of Japan. Cannot wait to show you all my favourite places there - and my new discoveries!

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