Monday, 30 June 2008

Armchair Travelling

My head’s been in China all day. I’m trying to write about Shangri-La and realised I hadn’t done enough research. Lots of questions as I draft, so it takes a long time. But I so love doing the research.

I’ve been to the top of Lion Hill at dawn and seen the sun rise over Lijiang and snow-topped Jade Mountain. I’ve watched a hunted tiger escape its pursuers by leaping onto a mid-river rock and then to the far side of the lowest set of Yangtse rapids in Leaping Tiger Gorge. Then I strolled through the rock tunnels on the path beside the river before climbing a multitude of steps up the steep side of the gorge without getting the least bit out of breath.

I’ve trekked to the Three Rivers Project with the conservationists, and recognised the diverse micro-climates and the multitude of different wildlife on the slopes of the mountains between the rivers. In the Napahi Nature Reserve I saw rare black-necked cranes feeding in grassland that used to be a huge lake.

I’ve been touched by the holy atmosphere of the Songzanlin Monastery, and marvelled at the plentiful azaleas in the meadowland around it. Nearby I was introduced to a man who had opened a hotel, without knowing anything about how to run it, just to show off the beauty of the place where he grew up.

And all on the same day without leaving my office. Through the wonders of modern technology, this armchair traveller can double and triple check everything.

Of course I haven’t finished drafting my piece. That will continue tomorrow.

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