Where Next?

Spring Festival is approaching, and for the first time in a long time, I have no major trips planned. Not because I’ve stopped liking travel, but because a) I just got back from a 3-week trip to America to see family and friends, and b) am going to be staying back to watch the cats while my roommate goes home to see her own family!

With all of the people off and traveling, it’s made me think about remaining trips to be had in China. Of the 34 “provincial-level administrative units,” the 23 provinces, the 4 municipalities, the 5 autonomous regions, and the 2 “special administrative regions” (Hong Kong and Macao), I only have FOUR left to go.

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My map of past trips. The lines are different routes for long-term travels. The dots are for single trips to a specific location.

What are those 4 regions? Here’s a quick run-down of where I have left to go.

Liaoning

In the northeast, or “dong bei” part of China, it’s a place full of awesome dumplings, winter-hardened people, and from what I hear, decent mountains. All of this sounds nice, but what I hear most about this area is the large sea-side city, Dalian. This is a relaxing place along the sea with tons of seafood, sailing, and a laid-back atmosphere. If I were to go here, I might not make it to the rest of the province, just saying.

Jilin

Also in dong bei, right next to Liaoning, Jilin province is a place best known for its natural scenery. Like Liaoning, it also has mountains, but as most photographers will tell you, it’s the lush red forests that are worth the trip. The red seaweed mentioned in the link sounds surreal, and I’m all about surreal. Added to the strangeness is the fact that beyond the mountains of Liaoning and past the forests of Jilin, North Korea lies in wait. (Though with a begrudging friendship with China, so no worries on that front).

**NOTE if you look at my map, you’ll see a line going through both of these provinces, indicating that I’ve been there. Not so! I rode a train through them, which doesn’t really count.

Qinghai

Located in the wild west of China, Qinghai is a desolate province bordering Xinjiang and Tibet. More than half of Qinghai is part of the Tibetan Plateau, which means that the elevation is high. According to some travelers I’ve talked to Qinghai is Tibet, but without the bureaucratic red tape. You’re still on/near the Himalayas, and the Tibetan people live everywhere in Qinghai. Something else that draws me to Qinghai is the Chaka Salt Lake. I love the thought of swimming in the mountains, and since I’m a mediocre swimmer at best, will appreciate the buoyancy.

Tibet Autonomous Region

This one hardly needs introduction, since it carries so much romance and imagination. Mount Everest is in Tibet. Religious mystery is in Tibet. One of the highest ferries wheels in the world is in Tibet. I have not yet been in Tibet. Many travelers are frustrated with Tibet, and it’s no secret why. Whereas back in the 90’s, travelers could carry a backpack and tent and just ramble on through, now it’s required to have a permit, a planned tour, and a guide. Sort of takes the mystery out, but I still want to go all the same. Though, I have also been told that Tibetan areas of Qinghai and Sichuan provinces are almost better because there is less government intervention.

China is very big, and even once I hit all of the provinces, there will be more to see. For now, this is what’s ruminating in my mind for the summer/fall when the weather is not brutal and I can catch some nice nature scenery.

Until then, it’s time with the cats!

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