Only one month to go!
Last Saturday Flight Centre held another of their Travel Expos at Darling Harbour. Unable to resist, we caught the train down to the city for a look-see. We picked up some free maps of Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin, along with brochures for Macau. The $1500 fare to Paris via Shanghai with China Eastern Airlines was back, along with some good JAL deals to Asia as well. Very tempting and we could have waited to purchase our airfares instead of going with Cathay Pacific. Oh well...
"If you are my bosom friend in the world, then let's meet each other in International Hotel." - Yichang International Hotel website
Ron Gluckman has a number of interesting articles about China on his website, including a ride on the first train to Tibet and the reinvention of the canal towns near Shanghai. Seems like he is good at finding fault with China, definitely a foreign journalist for the mass media, but worthwhile reads all the same.
Travelers' Tales China is, as its name suggests, a collection of various true stories about experiences in China. I'm certain that Donovan Webster's chapter China's Unknown Gobi, is a reprint of an article in National Geographic that really captured my imagination. Ancient ghost towns, lonely oases and rapidly expanding deserts that threaten to engulf cities. China has a number of deserts, including the Gobi, Taklamakan and Tengger, and they are spreading due to land overuse and a changing climate.
There is no shortage of quirky sights in Tokyo. The Sydney Morning Herald describes some more places to see in that crazy city.
I can't make my mind up about our trip to China. I thought I had our plans fairly settled, but the more I read, the more places I want to see.
Take Jiayuguan. The Lonely Planet China says that "... the city and its surrounding sights are not so amazing as to merit a special visit," but the photograph of the Fort in the desert against a snow-capped mountain backdrop is so evocative, so different to Australia, that I feel that we should see it. And if we are visiting the western end of the wall, then why not see where it meets the sea at Shanhaiguan?
I have been reading as much about China as I can in an attempt to better understand the country that we will be visiting in less than two months time. There is a dichotomy between the guidebooks and the travel tales. The former excites me about the many sights to see, food to eat, adventures to experience. After reading the Lonely Planet I want to extend our trip and see more destinations in China. The itinerary is in flux, I have many Firefox tabs open with pages of train and airline timetables, of hotels and tourist information.