Thursday, June 27, 2013


Tibetan Women in Shangri-la

There are 23 provinces in China; Yunnan is one of the most diverse.  More than half of China's ethnic minority groups live in Yunnan. The  land is also diverse:  jungles, rivers, rice terraces, and snow-capped mountains that border Tibet.

Bai woman selling goods

We come to Yunnan to rejuvenate, breathe in clean air, hike, explore, and leave the city crowds behind.  To adjust to the high elevation, we slowly travel our way up towards Shangri-la.

Children at recess at Green Lake
 in  Kunming
1,000 year old Buddhist temple

Our first stop is Kunming called the "Spring City" because of its lovely, pleasant year-round weather.
 Our train ride is not what
we expect:  8 people seated
in each sleeper car.
We choose the jump
seats at the side aisle.
Rice terrace views as we journey up towards Dali

Then we take a train to Dali.  Once a backpacker hang-out, and very touristy, now it seems like most tourists have gone further north to Lijiang.  We love Dali.  Erhai lake to the east, and the Cang Shang mountain range to the west.

Our room overlooks Erhai Hu Lake, Dali

Cang Shan Mountains in Dali

Downtown Dali
We take the gondola to the top of Cang Shan,
to hike along the wild Du Jian Hua, rhododendrons.

We made it!

Native Rhododendrons bloom for 20 days in June

Bike ride in Dali

After Dali, we take a bus to Lijiang.  Lijiang, a United Nation World Heritage Site, is a maze of cobbled streets and canals.  Tons of tourist groups, we try to find backdoor places and stay out of the main areas.
Typical Yunnanese Cuisine

Lijiang, Yunnan

The Naxi (people of Lijiang) Orchestra, original instruments

Music from the Han, Song, Tang

300 year old Tibetan Monestary
Shangri-la was made famous by the book (and movie) called The Lost Horizon.  A beautiful city, with an amazing 300 year old monastery, at about 10,000 feet elevation.   We spend only one night in Shangri-la because we want to get even higher up into the mountains:  Meili Xueshan (Beautiful Snow Mountains)
Beautiful Shangri-la 

Jeanie enjoys Yak Hot Pot

We take a scary bus ride, five hours, to our final destination.  We could
have rented a driver for $300.00, but we decide on the public bus for $20.00.  Harrowing to say the least.  Because the roads are not yet comfortable and convenient, this most northern location in Yunnan, is less populated with mainly Tibetan people and Chinese backpackers.  Our stay at Meili Songtsam Lodge is the best part of our trip and a fabulous celebration for our anniversary!
Songstam Meili Lodge
 Tibetan run and owned

               We make it to the top of an 8 hour hike

Ken is thrilled to be in the mountains
and breathing clean, albeit thin air

Eating lunch near the top of hike
Jeanie enjoys
Tibetan pastureland
Tibetan yak

Miacimu Mountain,  19, 862 ft

Tallest mountain in Yunnan, Meili, (Kawa Gebo) 22, 112 ft.

 Yunnan is a magical destination in China. We are in awe of God's creation.

Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens...when I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8: 1,3

Ken and Jeanie

Next Time:  New friends in Shanxi Province

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Amazing Beijing

View of Forbidden City from Jingshan Park
Beijing, China's Capital.  Awe-inspiring from the Hutong alleyways and the Forbidden City to the Great Wall.

From Shanghai, we took a five hour high speed train north to Beijing. We met up with Ken's Intel colleague and friend, Xue Yan (Bryan).

Bryan at bronze vat in Forbidden City

Nanluoguxiang Hutong
We stayed three nights in the Peking International Hostel on a main Hutong, Nanluoguxiang.  Historic, charming, authentic, colorful:  hutongs are the heart and soul of Beijing.
Enjoying coffee at International Hostel
 Impromptu music in the Hutong
Jeanie and Mao Zedong, Tiananmen Square
Forbidden City, immense
Haoche- delicious!

We visited the Forbidden City (looks just like in the movie, The Last Emperor) and of course, we feasted on Peking Duck.
Live scorpions on a stick, really!

Our favorite part of the trip was hiking the Great Wall.  We drove two hours north in a minivan with other hikers. We chose to hike the less touristy part of the wall from Jinshanling to Simatai.  An amazing journey in the northern part of China that borders Mongolia.
We hiked six kilometers

 Views that go on forever

Ken at the Wall

One of the 22 towers we hiked

Jeanie and a new Mongolian friend

The Great Wall, indeed

Fifteen years ago on June 15, Ken and Jeanie were married.  We still believe more than ever that:
The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.  Psalm 126:3

For the next ten days,  we will celebrate marriage and rejoice in God's beauty as we travel the southwest province of China called Yunnan.  We will hike the Tiger Leaping Gorge, and gaze at the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas.  

 More photos and adventures to come....