This week, my final full week in China, included some diverse travel experiences. Early on Monday morning my daughter Marita and I flew from Chengdu in Sichuan Province to Lijiang in Yunnan Province. We visited a Naxi village outside of Lijiang in the morning. A local woman invited us into her house, served us tea, and showed us around her extended family compound. In the afternoon we visited Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, an enormous rock massif that overlooks Lijiang. The highest peak of the rock massif, which reminded me a bit of Torres del Paine in Patagonia, rises to a height of 5,596 meters (or 18,359 feet). We took a chairlift up the mountain to the Glacier Park at an elevation of 4,506 meters (14,783 feet). While I have previously climbed to elevations above 20,000 feet, both Marita and I were feeling the altitude so we did not spend long there.
On Tuesday we drove over the Lijiang Pass to the other side of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to hike to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest canyons in the world and is one of the few places in China where environmentalists have been successful (for now) in stopping a plan by the Chinese government to build a dam. The gorge is a 9-mile long canyon formed by the Yangtze River. From the end of the road on the east side of the river we hiked along a three-mile trail to the most dramatic point in the gorge where the tiger allegedly leapt over the rocks to give the gorge its name. A tiger statue has been erected there. The trail is cut out of the side of a sheer mountain cliff and in places the trail has been replaced by tunnels dug into the cliffs to protect hikers from falling rocks. Several minders with megaphones are posted on the trail to urge hikers to hug the side of the cliff so that they will be less exposed to rockfalls. The scenery was truly spectacular, although the Yangtze River is chocolate in color at this point as a result of runoff into it even though it is not far from its mountain source.
On Wednesday Marita and I flew from Lijiang to Kunming and then back to Beijing. Photos of our trip to Yunnan Province are posted online at: http://gallery.mac.com/rperci/100297.
Marita returned to the U.S. on Thursday. On Thursday night I went to a farewell dinner for some of the Fulbright scholars who are in Beijing at the Tenggali-Tala Mongolian Restaurant. On Friday I flew to Macau for the weekend. Macau, a former Portuguese enclave near Hong Kong, is a fascinating combination of old and new, east and west. Gambling is legal there, which attracts many tourists who arrive by ferry from Hong Kong. Macau now boasts the world’s largest casino, but I discovered that its airport is a bit primitive. When it rains, all airport operations are suspended, which meant that I had to wait one hour and forty-five minutes before my bag was unloaded from my plane after I arrived. I visited some of the casinos, but did not gamble. On Saturday I hiked across the Macau peninsula and ate lunch at Littoral, a wonderful Portuguese restaurant that had great seafood (and port wine).
I am now back in Beijing. After a farewell dinner tomorrow night, I move back to the U.S. on Tuesday. In the weeks to come I will have lots more news about global environmental law and less about my travels.