Friday, May 7, 2010

Yunnan, Take II

Not that anyone would really have noticed, given how infrequently I've been posting lately, but I leave in two hours for my second pass at China's southwestern province, Yunnan. I went last semester with my school, as well, but we're taking a bit of a different route this time and the group is much, much smaller. Moreover, while last time we were just traveling for the sake of traveling, this time we're actually having class (Tibetan studies) several hours a day while we travel. I'm very, very excited for this trip, and here's why:

The basic itinerary is to fly into the capital, Kunming, at around noon today. That same night, we take a short flight to Zhongdian, a.k.a. Shangri-la. We'll spend the morning wandering around Shangri-la (James Hilton would be so proud), and then take a bus that afternoon to a small Tibetan village and stay there for four days.

It's funny: that village has about 200 people in it, none of whom speak my language, and it's located thousands of miles from home. It seems strange that I should end up there again. I'm looking forward to the experience a lot, though. My Chinese has improved vastly since I was there last, and my knowledge of Tibetan culture and history is much better than it used to be, as well. So hopefully I'll get some more good chats out of our home-stay there.

When we leave the Tibetan village, we take Jeeps up across the border into Sichuan (though, to be fair, it's still ethnically Tibetan; the political boundaries have nothing to do with the situation on the ground). Here's where it gets cool: after we cross the border, we'll take several-day hikes around holy Buddhist mountains and go monastery-hopping. The three mountains we'll be hiking through in particular are actually viewed to be the mountain-y representations of bodhisattvas (Buddhist enlightened human beings who stay on Earth to teach dharma). Cool, cool stuff.

This is going to be a great trip, and the company we have on board is going to be half the fun. It's an energetic, intellectually-stimulating crowd; couldn't have picked 'em better.

When I get back, I'll have a week to finish the semester-long term paper on Chinese internet nationalism I've been working on for months, present before the jury of my peers, then hop on a flight back to the U.S.! I'm going to stop off in Hawaii to spend some time with my folks for two weeks, then I'll be back in Fort Collins to spend the summer making bank and climbing mountains.

Best wishes to all of you back home. Looking forward to seeing you all soon.


  1. Sounds wonderful! Have a great trip!

  2. Wow! That sounds like an awesome trip Charlie! I hope you have TONS of fun! I can't wait until you get back! Can you believe we have snow here again? It the middle of MAY!

  3. May I please have a copy of your paper when you're finished with it?

    Except that it's likely going to be in Chinese and therefore incomprehensible. Drats. Would you be willing to at least translate an abstract of it to satisfy my curiosity?