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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Friday, June 15, 2012 07:35:29

CHINA 2012: 8 - Shangri-La to Shenyang

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

There was no mercy shown in consideration of the rarefied atmosphere at this altitude - we were walked to the huge monastery not far from the hotel where there were hundreds of steps to climb. At first glance I declined, as my knees were still killing me from the day before, but eventually went for it. The original monastery was constructed in the time of the tea caravans, however the government has totally redone it including repainting all the murals. There are 3 huge gilt Buddha statues in three different prayer rooms, and many smaller statues, but the atmosphere lost something as tour groups stomped through led by guides with portable loudspeakers. The monastery is near the old city, which is much smaller than any of the previous three. We had a good lunch with yak meat at a touristy restaurant - actually most of the old town is touristy. Our guide, Nayma, says the locals don't buy anything there. Most shops are not owned by locals and they give no discounts from the high prices to residents. Marilynn did find a blouse she liked and bought it. We visited the log and wood home of a local family. The owner was there, and when through the guide I told him we had lived in a log house in Canada and liked his place he was very pleased. The people here advertise their economic status - one flag over the house is a poor person, two flags are doing OK and three flags are for the wealthy. The passengers were very amused when we took a local bus back to the center of the old town. They were very welcoming and friendly - I was sitting beside a Tibetan monk who went into fits of laughter at me trying to fold my legs into the isle - no way they could go in front of the seat.. By the time we covered some miles in the old town our feet were killing us, so we went for a foot massage. The price was similar to the previous one - about $9.20 - and it lasted about an hour. It was well worth the price! It was a short walk out of the old town to where our driver waited. Although it was only mid-afternoon we decided to go back to the hotel. We were both bagged, and had to catch up on a number of things. Nayma was telling us that the schools in the villages are very short of teachers due to the low wages they are paid. In other parts of China elementary schools are closing due to lack of students from the one child policy. Spoiled children are a problem for teachers, which along with low pay is makes teaching a much less desirable profession. Dinner was accompanied by the very good local wine. There is a winery in the city producing both red and white wine of good quality. They would have to bring the grapes in - they wouldn't grown at this altitude.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our destination this morning was Podatso National Park, a forested mountain wilderness area with several lakes. Because of the mass of people visiting access is tightly controlled and confined to permitted areas There was a line to board a bus for the 15 km bus ride to the start of a 3 ½ km boardwalk along the shore of a lake. The altitude of the lake is 3,600 meters (11,800 ft). There were fish jumping in the clear water - fishing or hunting is prohibited in the park. At the end of walk there was another line to board a bus that stopped at a couple of scenic spots for photos. The only wildlife we saw was a chipmunk, but people in the bus ahead of us spotted a red panda running across the road. There are lots of wildflowers. We didn't see any other foreigners in the area; the buses were loaded with Chinese tourists. Marilynn and I sat separately so I could find a spot for my long legs, something the Chinese were very helpful in arranging. Everyone was super friendly, and we conversed as best we could, however the twisting road and altitude had an adverse affect on a lot of our fellow passengers - fortunately they were provided with motion sickness bags. Others were gasping and sucking in oxygen masks connected to canisters about the size of a hairspray can. After lunch we were driven to Shika Snow Mountain. This was not on our program, but thanks to Nayma we found out about it. There were few people, so no line ups as it is not usually on programs, but it certainly should be. The top of the mountain is reached via two connecting cable cars with a total length of 3 km (1.86 mi), the longest in China. Each gondola on the cable system seats 6. The views on the way up are amazing, and there are fields of azaleas & rhododendrons in bloom. There is a hotel catering to hikers at the joining point of the two cable systems. The second cable reaches the top of the mountain at 4,500 meters (14,760 ft) where we walked the boardwalks in spite of lots of steps. There were stupas, prayer flags and a 360 degree panoramic view of mountain peaks in range after range of mountains for as far as the eye could see. Deep snow drifts were scattered around, with more surrounding mountains, so it was cold and wind. The altitude wasn't a problem and the view was majestic. Nayma accompanied us to get a foot massage, have nails cut, and feet revived once we were back in town. This time it was a place he recommended - a little more expensive than yesterday's but far superior. A light yak meat dinner was accompanied by the good local wine after which I participated in a management meeting in Costa Rica by Skype and to bed.

Friday, June 15, 2012

For the last time we collected our shoes, which had been nicely shined, from the outdoor locker they were kept in. Only slippers are permitted in the hotel. At the airport we said goodbye to our driver who had been with us for 7 days, and to Nayma who was a lot of fun and more than willing to please. The hour flight to Kunming was on time, and our check-in for the flight to Shenyang went smoothly, but then things fell apart. Apparently they oversold the flight by 16 seats and it took two hours to sort that out. Then the bus didn't come for 20 minutes to get us to the plane. Once away the on board meals were good, but we had to get off the plane for some reason when it made a 15 minute stop at Taiyuan. Two guides and a driver picked us up at the airport to drive us into the city of over 6 million to our hotel. Judging by the number of Cartier, Gucci, etc. department store it is a pretty wealthy place. There are big steel mills and other heavy industry. We'll now be out of touch for awhile. Brooklyn, a guide, has been to North Korea 34 times and said the cell phone will have to be sealed, and there will be no internet of any kind. All electronic items will have to be declared - it is a very closed society!