A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about ecotourism

The Trees

sunny -1 °C

The Chinese people are devoted to the many gardens that are in and around the cities and towns. The street scapes are extraordinary. One thing I find fascinating is the care of trees. The trees are stabilized with bamboo or timber frames. Some trees are roped. Others are painted. I am told the tree is roped to make it tree stronger and force the growth upwards. They are painted to keep them warm in the cold winter and snow.

I have never heard of this practice anywhere else before.

Posted by Bettinamc 05:16 Archived in China Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Sunrise Climb

sunny 18 °C

One of the things on Barbara's to do list before she left Tai'an was to do a Sunrise climb of Mt Tai. Based on the weather reports we decided to climb the Mountain on Tuesday 30 September. We chose this day because we believed that it would be less crowded then the 01 October as this is a national holiday. Also the weather report indicated that it would be clear.

We left the apartments at 11 pm. We had intended going up the central route but the taxi driver couldn't understand us and took us to where the buses leave from. So we went through a park and walked up the bus road. It was so quiet as there were no other people on this route except for the bus loads that kept passing.

Anyway there were 2 guys on bikes that came down the road. One of them turned around and came back. This put the wind up me a little bit. But when I thought about it the Chinese would not hurt a foreigner. I think he may have been asking us if we wanted a lift on his bike. When he realised we couldn't understand him he left straight away. It wouldn't have even been a 1 minute scenario.

Barbara got sick about half way up. She was nauseous and dizzy. We had to stop a couple of times. Probably for at least 30 minutes on each occasion. At one time she was lying down. I had visions that we were going to stay at this point for the night. We couldn't have walked down in the dark especially if she was feeling dizzy. And I couldn't leave her there and go up by myself. That would have been totally selfish.

Anyway she pulled through but it was a slow climb. I saw these Chinese men with like two pieces of bamboo and a chair in the middle. They were carrying people up for a fee. I pointed them out to Barbara hoping she might hitch a ride. Anyway she asked them and paid Y200 $33 for a lift. This was a god send. Otherwise we might have still been climbing.

These little Chinese men are so strong. At some stages they were running up the stairs. Of course I had to run to keep up. I was making light of it though, saying, "Look out, Empress Barbara is coming through." Barbara enjoyed it. I was just trying to keep her spirits up as I thought she might be a little upset that she couldn't make it.

I had gone a head and waited for Barbara and the Chinese men. The next thing I see Barbara walking up. They had dropped her off.

I would walk ahead and then wait at a platform for Barbara to turn up. When we could see the last dreaded steps, Barbara said, "Off you go, I'll meet you up the top." In normal circumstances I would have stayed with her but this time was different - there was a sunrise to be seen.

Off I went and when I reached the top I sent her a text message to tell her I was at the top and to meet me at the rock. I was climbing down the rock when I saw Barbara and yelled out to her. She made it to the top but didn't see the sunrise. That's OK making it to the top is an achievement in itself.

I had a professional photo take of me at the rock with the sunset behind me. The photo is great except when you look closely you can tell that I haven't sleep in 24 hours. The bags under my eyes look like I have had a big night!
Normally in photos I look like my sister Wendy, however, in this photo I look like my Mother. Any chance one day I can have a photo taken and look like me!

On the return trip we caught the Cable car down and then the bus as Barbara was still not feeling very well. I couldn't believe on the bus ride that the bus driver was going through the mountain bends whilst talking on the mobile phone. I swear if I survive until January 09 it will be a miracle!

We arrived back at the apartment at 9.30 am. I stayed up until 11.30 am and then went to bed. I woke up at 4pm and tried to stay awake until 8.30 pm to get a normal nights sleep.

Posted by Bettinamc 01:51 Archived in China Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Hohhot - The Grasslands

rain 17 °C

We went to Xilamuren which is 1 1/2 - 2 hours from Hohhot. Being the closest grasslands it is the most developed and touristy. We did an overnight stay. The trip cost Y320 ($53).

We were expecting to gallop across the grasslands on Mongolian horses, eat Mongolian food, take in an evening of music and dance around the fire and sleep in a yurt at a tourist camp. Well we got none of this. That's not entirely correct - we galloped across the grasslands on Mongolian horses.

We went on the tour with the guest house we were staying at. There were 7 of us from the guest house who went. We went in a Mini van. When we arrived we got out of the van and nobody communicated what was going on. The Mongolians went in to the house and we all stood outside like stunned mullets.

I will just digress for a moment, Barbara asked where the toilet was with her best Marcel Marceau impersonation only to be pointed out to the grasslands. This is when I decided I could go without going to the toilet for the two days. I lasted until the morning.

Now back to my story,
So we went exploring. We came back at lunch time to find food in our yurt. Lunch was dumplings, tomato and pickled vegetables. After lunch like kindergarten kids we were told to have a rest as we would be going horse riding at 3.30 pm. Like good little children we did as we were told.

At 2.30pm we were called from our yurt to get into the van to be driven to the horse riding. We asked whether we should take our stuff for the tourist camp. At this time we were told that we weren't going to a tourist camp that we were having a home stay. Six of the seven of us were not impressed with this.

About 15 minutes later we arrived at the tourist camp where we would ride our Mongolian horses. We were not informed of how much or how long the horse ride would be. At the end of the ride we were advised that it was Y900 ie Y130 ($21) each for 2 hours riding with a guide.

It was raining by this stage and very windy. We sat in the van for 30 minutes so we could watch the horse racing and wrestling. Neither were entertaining or worth the wait. We then drove back to the home stay.

Back at the home stay we all stayed in the yurt because it was too cold outside. We were called into the house for the first time for dinner. Dinner was served and we were still expecting traditional Mongolian food. We had chicken and potato stew with steamed buns. This was not traditional Mongolian food.

After we had finished dinner we all sat at the dining table looking at each other. Eventually I suggested we play cards. we got some cards and played a few games. Then we went to bed in our yurt.

It was what you would call a communal bed. 7 of us slept side by side on concrete. I can't believe I paid money to sleep like this. On top of this I had the start of a cold so was not in the best frame of mind.

In the morning we were called into the house at 7.30am for breakfast. I said that I wasn't going because I couldn't stand the sight of a traditional Chinese breakfast in the morning and I wasn't feeling the best. Barbara came back to get me as breakfast was fried bread, eggs and tea. I agreed to go inside because I thought the tea would be good for me.

When my tea was poured it was milk black tea with pepper. I couldn't drink it. The fried bread was OK but exploded inside your stomach. I couldn't stand the thought of cold boiled eggs. That would be enough to make me throw up.

We had breakfast, the others went exploring but being that I was cold ridden I wanted to stay out of the wind so I cleaned the yurt and folded the bed linen. I then went back inside as I noticed that they had costumes. I did some dressing up had my photo taken and then it was time to leave.

About 1/2 hour away from the Guesthouse there was a terrible burning smell coming from the car. It was either the tyres burning or brakes burning. It turned out to be the brakes burning as the driver had his foot on the brake coming down the mountain. We pulled over and the driver poured water over the brake pads. After about 1/2 hour it was back on the road again and back to the guest house.

In a nut shell I as you can probably tell didn't enjoy the grasslands and the highlight for me was dressing up!

Posted by Bettinamc 07:20 Archived in China Tagged ecotourism Comments (1)

Teachers Garden

sunny 23 °C

Outside our apartments a teacher has started a garden which I refer to as the "Teachers Garden". This garden has a history although it has only a short life.

The teacher saw this rock that he liked. He borrowed the girls 3 wheeler bike to bring the rock back to the apartment. He took another teacher with him to help him lift it.

When he went to get the rock there was all sorts of commotion. Basically the rock was owned by someone else and if he wanted it he could buy it for 600Y ie $100. He wasn't having this. Eventually he took the rock.

A school leader came to the apartments to tell Ian he couldn't do this and he was stealing from someone else. He convinced them that he wasn't and that he was just borrowing it, it is still for sale but just living somewhere else!

Check out the photo!

Posted by Bettinamc 08:26 Archived in China Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Plastic Bags

sunny 11 °C

Packaging in China is amazing. Everything is double packaged eg say you buy a packet of Oreo biscuits, they look the same on the outside as they do at home, however inside they are wrapped again. Everything you buy they want to put into plastic bags. Takeaways are served in plastics bags. Even beer is sold in plastic bags. And China has a severe problem with waste. There are no dumps.

From the 01/06/08 China has introduced that you must pay for plastic bags at the supermarket in a bid to reduce pollution. I'm in full support of this especially when you see red plastic bags multiply in the rivers. I am now also the proud owner of several environment bags. It's the same story as at home you buy them but forget to take them back with you. The bags here are a little more stylish then the green bags we have back home.

Posted by Bettinamc 07:06 Archived in China Tagged ecotourism Comments (2)

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