Hong Kong is a pleasure, but also a pain.
The urban mass of humanity, the heat and humidity make it not exactly comfortable.
The mixture of East and West, the extremely urbanized city in proximity to nature make it fascinating to see.
Tourism is a booming industry, but in terms of the #GetAtHome intention of making oneself really at home in this world, it is a very odd one:
Tourist trips, rushing to see everything, can only ever scratch the surface.
Staying at home tends to breed only boredom and not deeper engagement, though.
In between, there lies the idea of going somewhere to live there like, or at least see it like, a local.
What is China like for a Chinese, nowadays, on vacation but not entirely?
It’s not as if Austria, Europe… everywhere… didn’t have their peculiar parts of nature that sometimes, suddenly, end up spots to see.
Hidden valleys, small waterfalls, forest outlooks, that sort of thing.
And yet, what makes something special enough to not just be there, but be something?
China makes that question particularly noteworthy.
The last thing to expect in Hunan countryside is a Japan connection, yet there it was…
In the eastern part of the Jiuxian Lake Scenic Area in You County, Hunan, just about as deep into the Chinese countryside as you can get without traveling back in time, there are two Buddhist temples.
Climbing Everest would still get you points, ridiculous though it has become (with guides and porters who basically carry not just the gear but even some “climbers” up that veritable Disneyland of a mountain).
But climbing the highest mountain, which isn’t very high, of a rural Chinese county, which is neither big nor home to anything that would give it any claim to fame?
It doesn’t seem very much worth it, in the big picture.
China, for all it has to offer beyond the pollution and problems one tends to hear about so much, is not a very popular tourist destination.
The places we go because family is there are particularly unpopular – and thus, chances to show a China as it really is, as hardly anyone gets to see it, with less of the glamour Instagram demands, but even more honesty and authenticity…
Sooner or later, whether you are a tourist or a travel blogger, you will end up in the same places as everyone else.
There are some misgivings about that, many complaints (especially now that selfies are being taken everywhere), various philosophical discussions – but also good reasons.
Shanghai, a place to see what China has become and perhaps wants to become, and what China is, for the most part, not. At least, not yet.
What China is not, for the most part, but Shanghai is: The Shanghai most visible is that rising back forward to glory days, drawing on the allure of its past and combining it with a new drive.