Sunday, October 19, 2008

Biblioteksutlåning och statistik - Resa till Kina

Glad nyhet - fick precis ett brev från Sveriges författarfond att min resehandbok Resa till Kina lånades 4570 gånger under 2007. Liten nedgång från 4674 lån 2006 men jag hoppas den har gått upp igen under OS-året 2008. Jag har inte riktigt kommit upp i Astrid Lindgrens lån (över 1 500 000 om året) men man ska inte vara otacksam. Tusen tack alla ni som lånade boken, nu finns två titlar till att ta hem. Jag hoppas att Kina-intresset sträcker sig även till dessa böcker och till denna blogg!
Resa till Kina var med som bokval i både Böckernas klubb och Månadens bok i maj 2006. Bland facklitteratur för vuxna kom den på 14:e plats som mest såld bok till biblioteken under 2006. Sedan utgivningen 2006  har den sålt i ca 10 000 ex. och är nu inne i sin andra upplaga som kom 2008 med uppdateringar och nya bilder. 

Recension i Bibliotekstjänst (BTJ) 2006: 
En guide till Kina och dess resmål såväl i Beijing som i andra delar av landet. Även om kinesisk mat och dryck, om konsthantverk och shopping samt praktiska tips inför resan. Förteckning över alla platser i Kina som finns på UNESCO:s världsarvslista. Omdöme Ingrid Booz Morejohn har mycket gedigna kunskaper om Kina. Därtill är hon en mycket skicklig fotograf och har bland annat dokumenterat landets alla världsarvsplatser. Hon har rest åtskilliga gånger till Kinas samtliga provinser och hon är väl insatt i kinesisk konst och historia samt språket. Beijing presenteras utförligt, därefter alla viktiga platser i östra och västra Kina, Inre Mongoliet, Sidenvägen samt Tibet. Alla sevärdheter beskrivs ingående med intresseväckande uppgifter om natur, tempel, moskéer, kyrkor (det finns många kristna) och utfärdsmål. Kina är ett land med många bottnar, vilket bland annat skildras i provinsernas olika matkulturer. Varje sida har utomordentligt vackra färgfoton; vart och ett är ett konstverk i sig. Boken kan läsas av alla Kinaresenärer för resa i grupp eller på egen hand. Alla som redan har varit där kan med stort nöje läsa denna bok. Praktiska råd finns, dock ej för inkvarteringar, vilket gör att denna bok är mer tidlös än andra aktuella reseguider. Register och litteraturhänvisningar ingår. - Birgitta Gren

Things Chinese - Wedding photography

©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

Outdoor wedding photography is all the rage in China and has been for some years now. The stylists are very creative with their poses and the photographers find the most interesting spots to place their willing victims.  If you are a tourist in China it would be a rare day that you don't come across at least one bride and groom trooping stoically around some beautiful destination accompanied by make-up artist, stylist, photographer, whiteboard carrier etc. Not only do they pick classic locations like Jiuzhaigou, Yellow Mountain and The Forbidden City but sometimes even trashy sites like broken down houses or industrial locations to contrast the flashy wedding attire. Unfortunately divorce statistics are as high in China as in the West so I wonder who gets the pictures?

I will be adding to this entry the more I come across interesting "objects" to upload...

Play day at Tumenzhen with Sichuan Quake Relief

All photos above ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

On Oct 11th my family and I went with a group of foreign volunteers  from Chengdu  up to Tumenzhen Village (on the other side of the mountain from Hanwang) to play with kids at the local school. This was organized by Sichuan Quake Relief that has been doing a lot of very good work since the catastrophe that hit this area of the province earlier this year. Most of these children had lost their homes in the May 12th earthquake and are now living in makeshift tents and temporary shelters scavenged from what is left of their houses and property. The school only had one building left but the government had provided two new prefab buildings that were functioning nicely. 
As soon as we got to the school word spread quickly and children and adults began to pour in from all directions. Games, finger painting and music lessons were organized and all the kids (Chinese and foreign) joined in immediately with great enthusiasm. Several hours went whizzing by and all too soon it was time to leave. As we all warmly said our good-byes it was a sad sight to see all the children start to walk back to the ruins of what at one time were their homes. 
A lot of progress has been made since the earthquake but life is still very grim for the tens of thousands of people in this large area of Sichuan. Winter is coming up and it might be a very cold one. If you would like to volunteer, work with or donate funds, please contact: Read there weblog posting for our outing.

Road signs in Sikkim

The road from Badogra (via Darjeeling) and Siliguri up to Gangtok quickly becomes a hair-raising experience as most drivers seem to think that the squiggly, narrow roads with numerous hairpin turns (and heavy traffic) should be taken at highest possible speed. The local authorities thankfully seem to disagree which is evidenced by the numerous inspiring traffic safety "admonishers" posted along the route. The yellow and black signs are imbedded into the road shoulder about every half kilometer and are bold and easy to read. Although very sweet in their concern for your well-being and hopeful survival they are however in themselves slightly distracting:

 Make life last - don't drive fast

Life is short - don't make it shorter

Driving faster can cause disaster

Drive like Hell and you'll get there

Driving and drinking = A fatal cocktail

Better safe than sorry

Your safety our concern

Save roads, save lives.

Caution at night - have bright light

Avoid over confidence

Go slow friend

Drive don't fly

Live don't die

Don't mix drinking with driving

Don't fly but play

Fast drive can be your last drive

Drive skillfully and live

Anytime is safety time

Drive slow and you'll know

Safety - make it a habit

Don't be Mr Late for your Date

You're heading for disaster if you drive any faster

Be soft on your curves

Let this be an accident free day

No hurry worry, drive slow

It is not rally, enjoy the valley

And my two favorites:

Reach home in peace, not in pieces

This is highway, not runway

Travel tips Jiuzhaigou

English name/Chinese pinyin name:
Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve/Jiuzhaigou Ziran Baohuqu

Overland by car/bus/train: At the moment (Oct 2008) the overland road from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou via Dujiangyan/Wenchuan/Songpan (792 km) is closed due to the 2008 earthquake. There is another road open via Mianyang/Jiangyou/Pingwu/Nanping (475 km). Public bus from Chengdu takes 10 hours and costs ca 125-150 y. You can also access Jiuzhaigou from Ma'erkang, Jiangyou (train/bus access), Songpan, Ruo'ergai and Mianyang. 
Plane: Jiuzhaigou is reached via the Jiuhang airport near Songpan. Four airlines traffic this route: Sichuan Air, South China Airways, Air China, China Eastern and direct flights arrive from Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing and Xian. Jiuzhaigou is ca 80 km from the airport and it takes 90 min to drive. Standard taxi fee is 200 y per vehicle. Airport minibus: 45 y per person if more than 5 people (fills up quickly). 

Entrance fees:
One-day tickets only and you are forced to pay a fee for bus transportation within the park, even if you choose to walk everywhere. If you want to stay in the park longer than one day you must buy a new ticket for each day. Price per day for adults is 220 y entrance + 90 y bus = 310 Y. Children over 130 cm: 170 y + 90 y = 260 y. Children under 130 cm: free. NOTE! There are off season reductions and Chinese student cards are allowed. 

Opening times:
May 1 - Nov 15: 7am to 6 pm
Nov 16 - Apr 30: 7 am to 6.30 pm
Peak Season: April 1 - Nov 15
Off Peak: Nov 15 - March 31
During peak season the lines quickly start getting very long so it is recommended to get in place as early as possible. The park is large and there is a lot to see so a full day is highly recommended but this will entail using buses between all major sights. Optimum time to see most sights in the park is 2 full days, walking from sight to sight and only taking buses along less interesting stretches (however very little in Jiuzhaigou is "less interesting"!). Three full days would give you time to explore the Tibetan villages and side valleys.

You can visit the Jiuzhaigou/Huanglong area at any time of year but winter can be very cold (but also dry) and have snow with the possibility of inaccessibility and parts of the park closed. The best season is (and the preferred season for domestic tourists with large numbers of visitors) is autumn and especially October when the leaves turn yellow, orange and red. Summertime is wonderful with all the trees green and lush. Late spring with give you some flowers and lot's of sunshine but less water in the lakes and waterfalls. Wintertime the waterfalls are frozen. The photographs included here were taken Oct 16-19. Anytime around a Chinese national holiday will see huge amounts of tourists in the park (except Chinese New year).

There are over 100 hotels in all price ranges outside of the gate in the area known as Zhangzha Town. This means over 20,000 beds which is just about enough to take care of peak season daily visitors to the park. If you are coming on your own and not with a group then my recommendation is to stay as close to the entrance gate as possible. A good option is the VIP Lodge (Gui Bing Lou) which is right beneath the gate, tel: +86-837-7739136/+86-837-7734084, mobile: 13909044987. Price: 160 y/dbl rm/Oct 2008. Sleeping inside the park is illegal but intrepid backpackers (foreigner and domestic) still surreptitiously find homestay accommodation with Tibetan families in the villages within the park area (but please note that this is an added strain on the park's water and waste disposal resources so is not recommended). 

There are a number of tourist shops and a few minimal supermarkets serving tourists in the hotel strip area. Here you can pick up snacks, fruit and drinks. Souvenirs can be bought outside the park, at the Nuorilang Visitor Center and in the Tibetan villages within the park. 

Within the park food is slim pickings, best to stock your daypack with snacks and goodies that will keep your legs walking a full day. There is a large "feeding hall" at Nuorilang Visitor Center that serves high-priced buffet-style food, instant noodles, water and sodas. Outside the park in Zhang Zha Zhan, Peng Feng and Huo Di Ba towns there are numerous restaurants, hotel restaurant, street stalls, bars etc. 

There are toilets and rest-stops easily accessible all over the park. Bring your own loo-papper and wet-wipes. 

Elevation/altitude sickness:
Jiuhang Airport is situated at a wopping 3500 meters (which is only a few hundred meters lower than Lhasa) on a plain near Songpan. Luckily most of Jiuzhaigou is 1000 meters lower (Long Lake (Changhai) is at 3100 m). Most people have no problems but if you do take adversely to the elevation the only solution is to go lower and quick.

Official website:

Trip to heaven - Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan

Five color Lake
Stream between Primeval Forest and Panda Lake
Shuzheng Lakes
Pearl Shoals Waterfall
Mountains surrounding Tibetan homestay, a 20 minute drive outside of the park.
Five Color Lake 
Peacock River
All photos  above ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

I have just returned from one of the most or maybe even the most beautiful place in China - Jiuzhaigou.  We had the good luck of being there at the most stunning time of year when the autumn leaves are still thick on the trees and have turned into a riot of color - canary yellows, rusty oranges and flaming red. Interspersed were evergreens, pines and cypresses in different shades of green. The waterfalls were bursting with water and lakes were all filled to the brim and showing off every shade of turquoise, teal, cerulean, indigo, and royal blue imaginable. It was all as a friend so correctly put it, "breathtaking"!

more to come....