We went to China for three weeks in November and December 2007. The trip was much easier than we had anticipated because getting around the country was not difficult and everywhere we went people were willing to take the time to help us even though we had almost no chinese language skills at all. We flew into Shanghai and knew we were going to spend some time in Shanghai at the end of the trip. Other than that we only really knew we were going to Chengdu and we would spend some time in Lijiang in Yunnan Province. The rest of the itinerary evolved as the trip progressed.

If you've only got a few minutes or don't think you've got the requisite mental toughness to handle the full onslaught of all of our pictures in one sitting, this is probably a pretty good place to start. This page will either whet your appetite to see more or, at the very least, you'll get a sense of where we went before your eyes glaze over and you fall out of your chair.

November 20-23, 2007: Chéngdū (成都)
Chéngdū is the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China. It is a major industrial center and one of the largest cities in the region. We didn't know much of what to expect out of Chéngdū. Our friend Sandy has spent some time in Chéngdū so she was able to help us pick our hotel and was able to recommend some fantastic restaurants, including a fabulous hotpot restaurant (Thanks Sandy!) We were right in the middle of town and we could walk almost anywhere we wanted to go. We take cabs several times, though. Although cars move slowly, it's amazing that we didn't see any accidents considering all the bikes, scooters, and pedestrians zipping around. On the way to the airport, our cab actually nudged a pedestrian. We were moving slowly and she didn't even turn around to look at us--she just walked faster! We felt bad but she didn't even seem to think this was out of the ordinary.

November 22, 2007: Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
The Giant Panda Breeding Research Base is several miles outside Chéngdū. This is where a significant portion of the world's captive pandas are conceived and reared before being distributed to zoological parks worldwide. Many advances have been made at the base. Recovery of the pandas' wild population is sadly still in doubt, but scientists have gotten much better at increasing the odds of reproduction. The base has many giant pandas of all ages, as well as many red pandas. We had a fantastic day at the panda base.

November 24-27, 2007: Lijiang (大研古镇)
We were really looking forward to our time in this pedestrianized old city predominantly populated by peoples from several ethnic minority groups. Lijiang exceeded our expectations in nearly every way. The weather was perfect, the people were friendly, the food was good, and the scenery was fantastic. Anna & Thomas joined us for this part of the trip so the company was fabulous as well. The town is laid out in such a way that maps are almost useless. It took us several days to really get our bearings and make peace with the fact that we'd get lost but that, because the town is so small, it's always easy to regain your bearings. We were lucky to stay at Moon Inn, a great little family-run guesthouse situated around a beautiful courtyard and run by fabulous hosts.

November 25, 2007: Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡) Hike
At the last minute we decided to dayhike along Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest canyons in the world. We hired a driver to pick us up at 6:30 and drive us to the gorge, then drive us back at the end of the day. We got us to the trailhead around 8:30 and it was still very foggy. We learned that most chinese drivers do not use their headlights unless it is absolutely pitch dark and there are no other lights around, ostensibly to save fuel. We had a great hike. There were not many other hikers on the trail but we met many chickens, goats, mules, and other animals along the way. And of course, the views were amazing!

November 27-December 1, 2007: Dàlĭ (大理)
Our next stop was Dali, another small traditional city with a strong ethnic minority presence and beautiful scenery. We took some great walks, ate incredibly well, and in general had a fabulous time.

November 30, 2007: Biking Around Erhai Lake
We took a beautiful bike ride around Erhai Lake and through many villages along the way. We had a minor hiccup when the ferry we planned to take back to Dali proved not to exist, but all in all it was a perfect adventure.

December 1-4, 2007: Jinghong (景洪)
Since getting around was easier than we had anticipated, we had a bit of extra time and decided to explore another part of Yunnan province. Tropical weather sounded really nice, so we ventured down to Jinghong, capital of the Xishuangbanna ("Banna" for short) region. A few days of palm trees and warm weather were exactly what we needed!

December 2, 2007: Jinghong Tropical Botanical Gardens
We took a beautiful walk through these botanical gardens, marveling at all the beautiful tropical plants.

December 3, 2007: Banna by Bike
Another beautiful bike ride through the countryside--a completely different way to see China. This ride was somewhat less eventful but no less magical or memorable than our ride from Dali. Our mountain bikes this time out were a bit fancier--they had shocks and seats that had a bit of padding. Riding in luxury, indeed!

December 5, 2007: Exploring Shanghai on Foot: Yu'Yuan Gardens and surrounding markets
We set out on a walk with Judy on a gorgeous clear day. We walked through the beautiful Yu'Yuan Gardens, had lunch in a famous restaurant, peered through a cricket market, and looked for real antiques mixed in among the fakes.

December 6, 2007: The Shanghai Museum
Although the Shanghai Museum is a relatively recent addition to the city, its collection is second-to-none.

December 7, 2007: Architectural Styles Collide: The Bund and Pudong
One one side of the Haungpu River, the Bund's architecture is an interesting mix of Chinese and European styles. On the other side, Pudong's skyscrapers relentlessly climb skyward.

December 8, 2007: Saying Goodbye
We really enjoyed our time in Shanghai with George and Judy but after a few more walks around Shanghai we took the maglev train to the airport and flew home.

Funny Signs
A trip to China wouldn't be complete without spotting signs with unintentionally funny english translations. Luckily, our trip was complete.

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