Monday, January 16, 2006

Millions of our years, in minutes disappears

I'm very sad to hear that Tiger Leaping Gorge, perhaps the most gorgeous place I saw in a year in China, may disappear under a dam-created reservoir. Here are some great pictures of it. The gorge is narrow and the trail hugs a cliff face. A hundred feet below is a rushing river, a thousand feet up is a cliff wall. It's awesome. So I hope the nascent NGO movement can stop or delay this dam.

If you are planning an East Asia trip, consider a stop in Yunnan province where you can see the Gorge. Yunnan is great. The southern border is with SE Asia so you get jungle. The NW border is with Tibet so you have mountains like this one. In the west you have Burma so you can be kidnapped by Burmese drug lords/military leaders and spend your few remaining days living out a Dead Kennedy's song.

The base camp for hitting the gorge is Lijiang. When I went in 93, it was pretty quiet, I imagine it is more active now. Like its bigger tourist neighbor Dali, it is probably overrun by hippies. And not just any hippies, backpacker hippies, a truly pernicious breed. These people sit around cafes filled with other hippies arguing about who has saved the most money so far. They regale each other with tales of chiseling fifty cents or so out of some poor Chinese guy. They will also tell you how much better they are than "Tourists" because they experience China for real, yo. Most of the discourse is bitching and they seem to spend a lot of time with other backpacker hippies, not with Chinese people. Fuckers.

No doubt the hippies are attracted by the easy to acquire wacky tabacky. Little Bai women wander the streets with a cigarette smoking gesture and say "Ganja? Ganja?" repeatedly. This may have changed, but I doubt it.

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