ASIA NEWS NETWORK
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Publication Date : 19-09-2013
Off the beaten track, China still mesmerises
At about 9,706,961 square-kilometres in size, China is an enormous and challenging country to visit. Unless, of course, you just want to stay within the tried-and-tested routes or the usual places like Beijing, Shanghai or the Great Wall.
But for those who want to venture off the beaten track, there’s a vast country out there that’s just as amazing and interesting to explore.
Along with 12 other photographers from the Asia News Network group of newspapers, I had the opportunity to visit some of these places recently.
The trip, dubbed “Incredible China Photographers’ Tour” and organised by China Daily, took us to three provinces – Gansu, Shaanxi and Zhejiang – and the Tianjin municipality, all of which had their own special appeal and attractions.
All in, the incredible journey took 16 days (July 21 to August 6), two international and five domestic flights, three boat cruises, two taxi rides, and countless hours in buses. There was even a birthday celebration during one of the rides.
Despite the rigours of the journey, it was an exciting time as we were given the amazing opportunity to see a side of China that is rarely seen by tourists. At Gansu Province, which is the home of the Old Silk Road, we were dazzled by the sight of vast grassland, endless deserts and the Hongyashan Reservoir, the largest desert reservoir in Asia.
At Shaanxi Province, home to many capital cities of the various Chinese dynasties, ancient cities, palaces and temples, we had the chance to get up-close to some relics of history, such as the Terracotta Warriors of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.
Tianjin municipality, China’s fourth largest city in terms of population after Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, was also very interesting with its mix of old and new urban attractions. Tianjin is 120km away from Beijing and is the eastern gateway to the Chinese capital city.
In Zhejiang province, which is regarded as the silk capital, the mountain and river landscapes are a sight to behold and are perfect for beautiful landscape photography.
In addition to the sights, we also enjoyed numerous lunches and dinners with city officials, and even one with a provincial minister. For me, the highlight of the whole trip was dinner in the desert in Gansu where we were served mutton boiled in water as the main course. It was unlike anything I have had before.
The whole trip was a wonderful experience and I was lucky enough to be able to capture it all on camera.
It’s a cliché, yes, but truly a picture is worth a thousand words.