Subject: Re: China and Mongolia

I have traveled to China a number of times and I have always enjoyed it. One of the questions I always get asked is Why do you go to China?

We first went to China in 1990, shortly after Tiannamen. We never planned on ever going to China, but we could not resist a 14 day all inclusive trip for $999CND, which included business class air. After that we made about seven or eight trips to China, the first few were with tours, the remainder on our own.

Some things have changed in China since we first visited, money changers are gone, FEC's are gone, Friendship Stores are gone, they now have ATMs, cell phones, traffic jams, large modern Western Hotels. One of the biggest changes is the lifting of travel restrictions on the Chinese people, they are now allowed to travel, if they can get a ticket.

Through our travels we travel to the far west as far as Urumqi, a four day train trip, the people look more like Turks than Chinese. We traveled the Yangzi, saw the sights of Guilin, Yunnan and Tibet, plus many other places. One of the most interesting travels that we had was an eight day trip that we took out of Chengdu, the trip was with a group of 18 Chinese people from all over China, none of them had ever met non-Chinese people before, and only two of them could speak any English, we could only speak very basic Chinese. The trip went into one of the most spectacular areas in China, Jiuzhaigou. It is located in the Abu Autonomous Region of northern Sichuan province, close to the Gansu border. It is often said that Guilin's scenery ranks top in the world, but Jiuzhaigou's scenery even tops Guilin's and the statement is true. Jiuzhaigou, which has a number of Tibetan settlements, offers a a number of features, it is a nature reserve, with some panda areas, it has areas with North American type alpine scenes. Scattered throughout the region are the Tibetan prayer wheels and stupas. The remoteness of the area has kept it relatively clean and untouristed. Also in the area are sights at Songpan and Huanglong. Songpan is an area for horse treks into the mountains, Huanglong, a national park is in a valley, with many streams and waterfalls, and is studded with terraced, coloured ponds, (blue, yellow, white and green) and in the fall with the colours of the trees.

My last trip to China was last summer, when I did a couple of days in Beijing, then onto Mongolia and Russia. I am now going back to Russia in October.

Gary Saunders Victoria BC