China's Southwest by Damien Harper

By Damien Harper

Become aware of China's SouthwestFollow your shadow floating over limestone peaks on a Guangxi ballooning voyage.Hike Tiger jumping Gorge to the snowcapped mountaintops of Haba Shan through the Jinsha River.Savour the Yin and Yang of highly spiced, hot or soaked-in-soy Southwest delicacies.Get stuck up within the dancing on the vivid Miao Lusheng Festival.In This GuideFive intrepid authors, 220 days of in-country examine, 157 bus rides and one rotting yak's head.Includes attractive new locations now not lined in the other English-language guidebook.Chapters devoted to gateway towns (Beijing, Honk Kong and Shanghai), minority cultures and experience actions.

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Treks can generally be divided into two groups: established treks (where routes are easy to follow, visitor numbers are relatively large and guesthouses and restaurants lie along the trail) and wilderness experiences (where there is no defined route, no accommodation or food, and the thrill of the unexpected waits at every turn). Established treks also vary in difficulty from the simple, but lovely, trek between Píngān and Dàzhài through the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces (p181) to more complex and exhilarating, but similarly established, trails such as Tiger Leaping Gorge and Yading Nature Reserve.

Opponents call the diversions an overblown Maoist approach; a more moderate solution would be to increase water prices as a means of deterring waste. Prices are currently way below market rates but the government fears that raising them could cause widespread social unrest. All of this is exacerbated by global warming, which is shrinking the Qīnghǎi–Tibet Plateau’s enormous glaciers by 7% each year. This rapid melting will initially increase rivers’ water levels, causing widespread flooding, but it’s believed it will eventually lead to severe water shortages, droughts and increased sandstorms.

Of China’s energy and therefore decrease emissions by 100 million tonnes. The government also has plans to dam the Yangzi in eight places further upriver, including at the popular Tiger Leaping Gorge (see the boxed text, p284). There are also plans to dam the Nu River, see p301. The country’s water isn’t faring any better than its air. It is estimated that China annually dumps three billion tonnes of untreated water into the ocean via its rivers, a statement that won’t likely shock you if you take a look at some of the water flowing under the bridges.

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