Traveling the World: China in Winter The world is full of wonderful places and experiences, and those who have the love of adventure seek new places to visit and explore.
This month is vacation for many people. In the North it is winter, and in the south it is summer. Northern based folks like to travel south for the warmth, and southern based people head for the beaches and the mountains, or travel to exotic cities and Festival Venues following advertising stories or shows.
It was quite by accident that I visited Beijing and the Great Wall of China last January. I was looking for something with a bit of adventure, without the High Holiday costs, and the travel agent suggested China because it was off season for the Wall, and tours and Hotels were at their cheapest. So off I went to Beijing staying at a 5 star Holiday Inn at a fraction of the cost because it was off season. A China Based website offered me some great $20 a day tours, and away I went to explore the Wall in winter.
The first Day was wonderful. We arrived on the wall to see the wall stretching out in the distance, and walked the wall with great delight. Then it started snowing…and the snow came down and covered everything and made the whole scene white. I was absolutely delighted, as now I had a range of photographs without snow, and another whole set with snow.
Because the wall was deserted except for small tour groups, I was able to get some wonderful photos, and walk the wall moving freely from side to side, and up and down turrets. I returned a few days later to Mutianyu with a different tour group, and again saw a different scene with partly melted snow and wonderful distances.
It was not until July when a group of friends did the same trip and came back disappointed because it was far too hot to walk, and the wall was full of tourists crammed neck to neck, that I realized that maybe winter was the best time to see the wall after all.
Walking was easy, and you got warm as you walked, the scenery was breathtaking and the lack of hordes of tourists also made it special as one could feel the spirituality of the Wall.
Extra tours were added to the base tours, and we also visited a Jade factory, a silk factory and a cloisonné factory. It was in all a fantastic week as I explored Beijing and its Culture following flags help aloft, and trying to keep up to the group as I lagged behind taking photographs.
You can see stories of the Wall and my trip on my squidoo.
This January saw me traveling to Yellow Mountains which is south of Beijing and inland from Shanghai, in the Anhui Province.
It was of course bitterly cold, but after hiking many kilometers the body gets quite warm, and the wonderful scenery makes it all worthwhile. Again, because of the off-season, I was able to get accommodation at a price I could afford and stayed on top of the mountain. This meant that at daybreak, armed with the Hotel torch, I was able to follow a group of Chinese to see the sunrise. Three and a half kilometers in the dark, then crowding along with many hopefuls on a rock, to see dawn break without color, was a bit of a let down, but I was happy to photograph the photograph of the sunrise, along with all the others who had also braved the climb. Walking back in the light was fantastic, and I was amazed that I had actually walked all this in the dark. It was steep sides down both sides in places, and some awesome mountain peaks.
Now again, taking advantage of the off season gave me unadulterated views of the mountains and again I have photos both of a sunny day with no cloud, and rainy day with mists and drizzling rain. I also have some wonderful memories of hiking with strangers who became friends as we climbed the mountain.
Yellow Mountain is an hour’s drive from the city of Huangshan, and then a curving climb to the top where a cable car takes you to a crest 18,000 m high, and then its climbing many steps and exploring many peaks and famous spots where much of the Chinese prints and watercolors have been created throughout time.
Slideshows and photographs of Yellow Mountain are available on One-true-Media.
by Marguerite Carstairs - Friday, 28 December 2007, 06:21 AM
©Maggi Carstairs January 7, 2008