At first glance, our itinerary for China might have looked a little different. Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an were all typical stops for a first visit to the world’s fast growing economy. But what business did we have in a valley town so remote, there is only one flight in and it arrives at 9pm in the evening?
Google Jiuzhaigou, and you might find something unremarkable. The results will not spark a lightbulb of a story someone told you one time of this place they went somewhere in the middle of China. But hit the “Images” tab, and you might see why people bother venturing a little off the beaten track to explore this little (but actually, pretty large) gem, in the Chinese province of Sichuan, whose other claim to fame is numbingly spicy food. This is ‘Fairyland’.
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Have you ever played the game, where you check the weather report for the place you’re going to visit, and it says one thing but you hope for something totally different? I played that game with China recently. And I won. November, it turns out, is an awesome time to visit. The sun shone not only in Shanghai, and Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan, but it even outmuscled the infamous smog in Beijing. It would, therefore, have been wildly ill mannered not to seize upon the opportunity for a visit at the even more famous, Great Wall of China.
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I haven’t actually read the book which inspired the title of this post, but I have seen a geisha in real life! Fleeting though the moment was, as we accelerated out of Kyoto station via shinkansen, it nonetheless marked a fitting end to a whirlwind visit.
I thought three days would have given me plenty of time to gawp like a tourist at these intimately cultural ambassadors of Japan, however luck was not on my side as I wasted several opportunities being unbelievably incompetent at looking where directed. And given the dense population of recommended shrines and temples to see, three days turned out to be wholly insufficient for our sightseeing endeavours.
What we did manage to fit in, however, we managed to capture slightly better on camera, than while in Tokyo. Have a look for yourself:
Read more about Ryoan-ji here.
We took part in a tea ceremony at En.