It just so happened that my recent Chinese holidays mostly took place in the Sichuan province (the Giant Buddha in Leshan, Mount Emei, Huanglong and Jiuzhaigou). They say: when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I say: when in Sichuan, do the panda thing!

Somehow it’s turned out I’ve written loads about China – its mountains, ravines, forests, lakes, waterfalls, roads, airports, lines, Buddhas and weather – but have been conspicuously silent on China’s supreme, universally adored animal! So to fix that, this post is all about the Chinese panda, with nothing held back…

Here’s one – at the Chengdu Panda Base.


Giant #panda is endangered species with ~3K of them living in the wild. Despite this animal is classified as a 'bear' its' diet consists almost exclusively of bamboo. Panda consumes up to 15kg of bamboo. Why so much? Because it digests if 17% of that amount. Because panda is still a bear // В мире в дикой природе осталось около 3 тыс. #панда Хотя эта животинка считается медведем, кушает она почти только бамбук. В день до 15 кг. Зачем так много? А потому что панда способна усваивать только 17% этой пищи. Медведь есть медведь! #ekinchina #China #Китай #Чэнгду #Chengdu

A photo posted by Eugene Kaspersky (@e_kaspersky) on

Read on: Red panda is not a panda!…

The Valley of Nine Villages.

Next stop on the route of my hidden China vacation – the Valley of Nine Villages, aka, the Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟) nature reserve and national park: Yet ANOTHER absurdly astounding Chinese natural beauty!

Cascades of lakes and waterfalls, crystal clear – albeit fluorescent turquoise! – water in lakes, and a freakish forest of horizontally growing trees under that same crazy colored water, and all that set in the most picturesque of mountainous landscapes. And in the fall there’s a bonus: the blends of reds and yellows and oranges of autumn leaves. Oh my gigabytes.

#No filter – no, really!#No filter – no, really!

Read on: Jiuzhaigou walkthrough…

You can’t go wrong in Huanglong.

Half an hour away on a plane from the not-so small (14-million-peopled!) Sichuan capital, Chengdu, in Southwest China, there’s yet another masterpiece of Chinese natural beauty: Huanglong. Basically it’s a cascade of brightly colored lakes and waterfalls made up of highly mineralized (calcareous) water. But that’s enough words. Better just check out the pics…


Read on: Bewildering beauty…

Buddha and nothingness.

Onward we march on our hidden China tour!

Since we happened to be in the city of Leshan in the Sichuan province, it would have been rude not to have gotten up to the top of Mount Emei, in Chinese known as Éméi shān. That’s what we reckoned anyway. Turned out we were rudely mistaken.


Read on: No landscapes but … elephants!…

Buddha and the ocean.

If you enter ‘Buddha and’ into Google, guess which five suggestions Google finishes the sentence with…:

Buddha and bonsai

Buddha and ahsok

Buddha and cats

Buddha and mara story

Buddha and the quantum


Curious, I admit. But my topic today is also curious: Buddha and… the ocean!

Never saw a connection, right? Well, did you see one between Buddha… and cats? :)

Anyway, I’ll save the Buddha-and-the-ocean connection until the end of this post (it’s a brainteasing riddle – well worth the wait). First off – text and pics by way of introduction…

In the city of Leshan there’s a giant Buddha statue, by coincidence called the Leshan Giant Buddha, which peers down on the river Min gushing past it. It’s been there for more than a thousand years. That’s a lot of river water that’s flowed past it…


Read on: All mindful and meditated? Ok. The question…

Sunset in Zhangye.


The below pics haven’t been doctored with Photoshop. Well, the colors were brightened just a little, but that’s not full-on Photoshopping really – more like putting Polaroid sunglasses on. Incidentally, such sunglasses are advised to be worn when looking at these here views in the flesh. Everything’s a little brighter, fuller, sharper and more contrasting. Like so:


Read on: From dusk till dawn in Danxia…

On the Avatar set – in China.

Believe me – in China there’s plenty to look at. I gave myself  a present for my for 50th B-Day and spent a few days there recently. Get ready to say ‘wow!’ when you see some of the upcoming must-see spots!

As I’ve said before on these here cyberpages, the funny thing is – most of that ‘plenty‘ is practically unknown to non-Chinese folks. The conspicuous historical monuments that were lucky enough to have survived the Cultural Revolution are known about, like those in Beijing and around, like the Great Wall of China, Lhasa and plenty more. But there’s a lot more besides, most of it unheard of outside the country. Just ask around – you’ll be met with blank stares. Maybe a few folks know about, say, Mount Kailash but that will be about it!

Oops. Yes, I’m certain I’m repeating myself somewhat here. I’ve already bemoaned this state of affairs not long ago. Accordingly, without more of ado, let me get on with another bit of Unknown China!…

Today’s bit of Unknown China shouldn’t be referred to as a mere bit. For it could well be one of the Top-20 most beautiful places in the world. It’s Wulingyuan – a ‘scenic are that comprises several national parks, one of which is the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park‘.

From somewhere out of sight waaaaay down below rise up huge rock columns. Jagged, naked sheer sides, with green vegetation on top. Utterly mind-blowing and jaw-dropping, moreover – in any weather: can’t say that for many similar natural installations, especially those in Kamchatka.

In overcast murkiness these stone columns get wrapped in a white fog. The actual scale and distances involved get totally lost, with the brain just giving up attempting to gauge them. They can’t be viewed with the rational mind; only with emotions. Then all of a sudden the sun will come out and the scene is transformed: all the detail and colors come to the fore, but still the brain isn’t able to cognize! Check out these contrasts in some of the pics below…

The heights of these columns are just silly: hundreds of meters tall they are. This one in the next pic is a whopping 1080 meters tall – more than a kilometer! Incidentally, it’s called Avatar Hallelujah Mountain, but more about that later. And the stone arch in the pics – that’s also daft-high: around 1000 meters up. You can walk across it too, if you’re brave enough.


Read on: Gulp!…

Kamchatka-2015: Back home.

All good things must come to an end: that’s it for at least another year. Time to go home.

In all we’ve trekked/climbed/clambered/slipped/tripped around 300 kilometers, been up five volcanoes (though not always quite to the very top), scanned hundreds of square kilometers of phenomenal natural beauty, scared (or maybe just surprised) dozens of bears, and fed a zillion mosquitos. We’ve also used up kilometers of Kodachrome gigabytes of memory cards :).


The grand finale #Kamchatka. 300+ km on foot in extreme conditions in 26 days

A photo posted by Eugene Kaspersky (@e_kaspersky) on

Read on: Good-bye Kamchatka!…

Terra Incognita. Southern Kamchatkan volcanoes: Koshelyov.

As our An-Kam-2015 inexorably approached its end, we had just one more volcano to check out: Koshelev – actually pronounced Koshelyov (accent on the lyov).

Though the name is in the singular, this isn’t a single volcano – it’s a set of five different volcanoes, each of which erupted at different times, and which together make up a single massive construction of varied volcanism. Since all the volcanoes are old, they’re all partly collapsed. But that’s just what makes them all the more photogenic.

The parts of Koshelyov we checked out (the western peaks) consist of lava stacks (the centers of former craters) colored with multicolored volcanic remains. Various shades of black, white, red and yellow almost glistening in the bright sunlight of the clear day we were lucky enough to be here on.


Read on: It was getting really tough towards the end of the trip…