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By Amy Leong
No matter how many times I fly on an airplane, I still enjoy the rumble of the wheels picking off from the ground, the speed of the plane taking flight into the skies, and the weight of its altitude lifting off your shoulders. And 14 hours from now, I will still be waiting in that cramped economy class seating area, eating airplane food, and getting up now and then – to use the restroom, say hi to relatives sitting on the other side of the plane, or peering through the window at a glance toward the ant-sized cars and specs of people.
Arriving at our first destination, Kunming, China, we (Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, and I) entered nothing but humidity and hot winds blowing our faces. Walking through to the local areas of town, we toured most of Western China’s highlights. From the scenic parks of Tiger Leaping Gorge to their famous temples, we experienced everything.
One of our very first stops was the Reed Flute Caves, which was highlighted by its colorful lighted landscape of stalagmites and stalactites, forming a mountainous appearance while leaving the lights gleaming from behind the rocks. Taking a break from the humidity outside, we continued to venture inside the cave to find them shaped into trees, carved into statues, and formed into the fantasies of dragons and castles. Going deeper into the cave, there was only more of the variety of colored rocks, forming more of the recognizable symbols of the Christmas spirit.
However, one of my favorite places had to be Tiger Leaping Gorge. Located in a nearby city, called Lijiang, we exhaustingly walked down 2,000 steps to find ourselves surrounded by the meaning of beauty and adventure all in itself. While trees and lakes surrounded its vicinity, rushing and roaring rapids came crashing down like a gigantic waterfall that’s nearly a few feet away from you.
But even more exciting was the lake nearby it, as it was my first time ever riding on top of a yak. Though I was only able to ride a very short distance, it amazed me to be in the middle of the river, watching the water slide down farther beneath me. Simply put, the bumpy, furry 5 minute experience was the highlight of my trip.
Although the fuzziness of that first ride was quite bumpy, venturing into another province with our gigantic bus was even worse. With the rocks and dips every second, our trip toward Shangri La was exactly like riding the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. We basically bumped into every direction, rocking back and forth on an out-of control vehicle.
When we finally arrived, however, the experience was simply breathtaking. Large landscapes of peaceful and beautiful views surrounded us in a 360° direction. Filled with plenty of trees, lakes, and mountains, the picturesque view would be a photographer’s dream spot. On the high tops of hills, temples awaited us with golden statues and intricate pictures detailing China’s past.
But no matter how many times I go to China, I will still enjoy all of its many landscapes, road trips, and traditions, as their scenic views continue taking my breath away in a glance toward heaven on earth.