In the course of my travels in Asia I’ve had 2 month-long stays in China. I haven’t been to Beijing or Xian, never seen the Great Wall or Terra Cotta Warriors. I would very much like to see the Forbidden City but likely never will. I suspect my travel choices are not chosen in the same way many people’s are. What inspires me most are photographs I see when I’m not looking for places to go.
My first visit to China was to Yunnan Province and it was a tiny photograph in a book about travels along the Mekong River that compelled me to go to Lijiang, then on to Jinghong to board a boat for the trip downstream to Thailand and Laos. My latest visit to China began the moment I saw pictures of the buildings called tulou in Fujian Province.
I was thwarted on that first trip when a landslide prevented me from taking a train from Hanoi to the capital of Yunnan, Kunming, on my way to Lijiang. As I looked at the map of southern China later, I realized my visit to the tulou might be the beginning of a longer trip, to include the karst landscapes in Guangxi Province near Guilin, then on to Nanning for an overnight train ride to Hanoi, finally. And so it was.
All this to tell you how I came to post pictures of a bunch of haystacks on TravelGumbo. Early in my Gumbo career I wrote about a walk I took, first on one side of the Yulong River, then on the other side, before crossing a bridge and returning to my starting point. I met people along the way, residents and Chinese tourists, at the beginning and at the end. But while I was across the river I met no one. I saw a couple of farmers in their fields, but my primary company as I walked and became more aware of them, were the haystacks, all along the way. They took on personalities by virtue of the fact that some were well made, some less so. Some were old and bent, others fresh and upright. Some thin, some fat, often in crowds but others more solitary. Please join me as I indulge my imagination and look again at, I admit, the prettiest of my haystack friends in their magnificent landscape.
To read a description of my walks in Guangxi, click here.
To read more of PortMoresby's contributions, click here.