China-2023: Enshi Grand Canyon.

Often, it’s not the filtering and editing of photos and deciding which ones go where that’s the tricky bit. Much harder, IMHO, is calming and formatting personal impressions, and dimming the brightness and contrast of emotions that are still all over the place as after-effects of one’s latest typically unorthodox spot of travel to a far-away beautiful land – this time China. But, what can I say? Hard or no – I’ve finally pulled it off: all my memories and impressions and photos and videos duly sorted, de-chaffed and compartmentalized – all ready to be slotted into the various chapters of my latest travelogue series…

Which brings me to why I’ve been so quiet of late on these here blog pages of mine – I was in deepest China for quite some time in October. And I was so busy with my tourisms of the unexpected (added to the above-mentioned over-abundance of photos and videos) that I never got round to starting this here series. Well that procrastination stops here, now…

First up, Enshi Grand Canyonhere.



Sure, it’s a canyon, but it sure isn’t as grand as the one in Arizona. Still impressive though. Some 35 kilometers long, it gets really thin in places – but the sun still manages to (occasionally) light up its deeper reaches! ->

It’s big with tourists, but we were lucky (actually, it wasn’t luck; more on that later) in that there were hardly any tourists about when we were here.

Maps of tourist locations in China – like this one – seem to always be confusing, to say the least – even to locals! So if ever you do come to China for its tourisms, be sure to hire a guide who knows the place well! However, it turned out that we didn’t really need a map to work out where to go here – it’s impossible to get lost: there’s just one tourist route, which we duly took…

Brief interlude…

When I was planning this trip, I knew there’d be some in our party who were visiting China for the first time. Accordingly, so that minds wouldn’t be blown so completely early on, I decided we needed something modest to start off with – kinda China-awesomenesses acclimatization, aka, a soft landing into its new reality. That was the plan anyway. I chose Enshi Grand Canyon thinking it was tourism-lite. How wrong I was – even my mind was well and truly blown. Oops!

Thing is, I didn’t realize the canyon is an AAAAA-category tourist attraction (which, funnily enough, roughly precisely correlates with my own KKKKK-category:). How could I miss that? Good question…

Anyway – here we were, so we just had to dive in at the deep end. Which we did…

At the entrance to the territory you walk through some kind of food court first where you’re heartily invited to eat a hearty meal before your walk – “to make sure you’ve enough energy to last you”, or something like that. We passed; we’d only just breakfasted!…

Btw – it’s mostly Han Chinese (the world’s largest ethnic group!) who live here, but there are other, much smaller ethnic groups too, like the Miao and the Tujia peoples (the latter – with its own language; the former – with several!). The history and cultures of all these peoples are fascinating (check the links); but for straightforward tourists – there are (cultural?!) installations like this one dotted all over ->

Chinese tourism infrastructure is sooo impressive. This, for example, is a tourist information center ->

But that’s nothing compared to some other tourist-oriented installations. To compare, have a look at some of my previous tales from the Chinese side. Let’s just say China takes its tourist infrastructure very seriously – it has it plentiful in supply, massive in scale, and often of five-star quality. Respect! I guess it makes sense, since there are that many Chinese hungry for tourisms that it’s the best way of accommodating them all. I say all – but by far not all can just turn up at these tourist spots: despite the maximal capacity of the infrastructure, there’s still limited space at the actual tourist attractions themselves, so access is strictly controlled by having to book visits.

Booking – yes, normally a good idea; however, if you time it just right – based on some inside knowledge – you can visit tourisms when there’s practically no one about. One such gem of inside knowledge (now “outside knowledge” given I’m telling all you, dear readers!) is to do Chinese (mostly-domestic-market-oriented) tourisms just after a Golden Week 7–8-week national holiday. Which is just what we did (since I can’t abide crowds). Just look at these empty guiding-barriers ->

The lack of folks kept on giving: we were first on the train so we got the best window seats: up front in the first – mostly empty – carriage ->

The train, btw, took us from the tourist center to the Canyon itself (which, incidentally, is some 70 meters deep, if the internet is to be believed; sure looks like it could be) ->

Woah ->

Walkies time! This path here is around two kilometers in length, but it took us an hour-and-a-half due to all the stops for photos, agape gasps, etc…

The sun had come out up above, but we were down here in the shade; still awesome! ->

Clearly, the river can get much deeper than today:

“Pavilion De Nostalgie”. Interesting name; reminds me of my nostalgia as soon as I left: I wanted to go back! ->

Simply marvelous! ->

Romancing the stone?! ->

At the end – an elevator; phew! ->

And the icing on the cake: waterfall! ->

And that was that. A simply magical walk!

More empty stalls (at the entrance to the elevator) ->

Up we shoot ->

Up top, it was time to start the second leg of our route for the day – up those there mountains! ->

…But I’ll save that for my next post.

The rest of the photos from China are here.

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