I took my family for a weekend staycation, the Mandarin Oriental Shanghai, club level, all the amenities, all the special treatment. Ordinarily we might have flown to Hong Kong or Osaka or taken the high speed train to Nanjing, but that’s all off the table now and it’s not clear if, when, and in what form it’s ever coming back. The experience reminded me just how much I’ve been missing travel.
I’ve been traveling in China for 15 years now and seeing the sunrise on Taishan was easily one of my top five experiences. I didn’t expect it to be as moving as it was. Here’s my experience.
A century ago, Moganshan attracted Shanghailanders looking to escape the summer heat. They went down and built wonderful stone country homes amidst the bamboo forests which still stand – and are still famous – even today. But even before that, the same thing happened in Lushan, a lush, green-clad, cloud-wrapped mountain which sticks straight up from the north Jiangxi floodplains. Today it is a fantastic getaway which combines culture, nature, architecture and a unique political history.
Shaoxing is a magical place for me. There are a few others in China–Qingdao, Moganshan, and Xiangshan just outside Beijing. These aren’t obscure places. Many people have been there, but maybe they don’t see them the way I do. I have been to each of them many times and even after years of separation I don’t need any map to get around. Each is a separate and important thread of my China story. Previously I have written about Xiangshan. Now I want to talk about Shaoxing.
I don’t want to write a travelogue of Japan, but I do want to convey what it was like to travel by bicycle through this very interesting country. So what I’ve done instead is a Mlog–a music blog–which is not a word, nor even a good idea for one. What I did was Shazam tracks all around Japan at different times, whenever I heard anything that struck me. Japan, as I wrote before, is almost always perfectly soundtracked. So here’s my journey through Japan, one track at a time. I’ve imbedded Youtube video of each track, plus linked to Xiami where I could.
I’ve always thought of Tokyo as impenetrable in some way. Maybe because of the language barrier, maybe due to scare stories of the impossible-to-navigate Tokyo subway, maybe because of its reputation for being frightfully expensive. But really it’s one of the most sophisticated places in the world, a ton of fun, and–most interestingly–almost always perfectly soundtracked.
Ah, Saigon. In the last six months I’ve spent two weeks there and formed favorable impressions. Part of it is the warm weather. Part of it is the food. Part of it is the beautiful women. Part of it is because everything is cheap. But there are other, more important reasons.
This gallery of photos is not really about the lake itself but about surprising and inspiring things I saw on the nine-day trip. They are loosely grouped together with a little commentary where appropriate.
The thing that is most difficult to capture or explain is the faces I saw during those nine days and 585 kilometers of cycling. They are etched in my memory, but are otherwise ephemeral. How can something so brief make such a deep impact?
Below is a gallery of photos depicting Taihu in its various views and elements. A lot of one’s feeling about anything belonging to nature is dependent on time and the weather. I was fortunate to have plenty of time and also to experience a whole range of weathers on my trip from bright sunny summer to desolate autumn.