Category Archives: 旅行

52 Places to go in 2017

52 Places to go in 2017, recommended by the New York Times:

1. Canada
2. Atacama Desert, Chile
3. Agra, India
4. Zermatt, Switzerland
5. Botswana
6. Dubrovnik, Croatia
7. Grand Teton NP, Wyoming
8. Tijuana, Mexico
9. Detroit, Michigan
10. Hamburg, Germany
11. Marrakesh, Morocco
12. Greenville, South Carolina
13. Pedregal, Ecuador
14. Penzance, England
15. Osaka, Japan
16. Stockholm, Sweden
17. Sikkim, India
18. Ile de Porquerolles, France
19. Madagascar
20. Sanya, China
21. Cyprus
22. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
23. Minneapolis, Minnesota
24. Kingston, Jamaica
25. Comporta, Portugal
26. Kazakhstan
27. Gabon
28. Athens, Greece
29. Northwest Puerto Rico
30. Chiang Mai, Thailand
31. Napa Valley, California
32. Puerto Escondido, Mexico
33. Sedona, Arizona
34. Madrid
35. Ketchum, Idaho
36. Maldives
37. Calabria, Italy
38. Antequera, Spain
39. Lofoten Islands, Norway
40. Ibera Wetlands, Argentina
41. Istria, Croatia
42. Placencia, Belize
43. Langtang Region, Nepal
44. Bozcaada, Turkey
45. Birmingham, Alabama
46. Sacred Valley, Peru
47. Laikipia, Kenya
48. Busan, South Korea
49. Portland, Oregon
50. Budapest, Hungary
51. South Bronx, New York
52. Ryukyu Islands, Japan




感谢瑞士人Jacques Feiner,美国人Chris Barclay,中国建筑师Huang Yinwu,以及World Monuments Fund,和当地政府等个人和组织的努力,沙溪古镇得以忠实地按照原样修复。希望她永远不为游客所知,不要成为下一个丽江。


An Ancient Caravan Town in China Is Reborn




SHAXI, China — The woman shuffled around her shop in the village square, telling visitors how she came to be selling wooden swords and woven slippers to tourists rather than tending to her fields.

He Yuqing, 60, wore a blue tunic and apron, common among older ethnic Bai women of this verdant valley in the Himalayan foothills. In the plaza outside, afternoon sunlight fell across cobblestones on which horse caravans once trod.

She said she had been renting the shop from the local government for eight years. If an international architecture team had not restored the square’s ramshackle wooden buildings, she said, she would be doing hard labor among her fields of corn, fruit and grains.

“Before they restored this, it just wasn’t as beautiful,” she said. “They did a good job.”

In a project little known outside China, a Swiss-led team worked for years to renovate the square of Sideng Village. The square was the site of the main market in Shaxi, a valley dotted with Bai villages in the Hengduan Mountains of southwest China.

The renovators aimed to remake Sideng’s former marketplace to be fully consistent with historical design and artwork, a commitment rare in China. They say the project could be a model for other village renovation efforts in the country. It has been praised by Unesco, the United Nations cultural agency.

The restored buildings include a centuries-old Buddhist temple that had been converted to government offices after the Communists took over China in 1949. Facing the temple is a four-story theater with soaring eaves and an outdoor performance terrace for local orchestras. Every June, valley residents converge on the plaza to hold the Torch Festival, in which they erect and light on fire a towering pine trunk.

The village square is now considered by some to be one of the most beautiful in China. It evokes the era when the Tea and Horse Caravan Trailpassed through the valley. This part of Yunnan Province lies east of theTibetan plateau, and Tibetans traded horses for tea that was then transported across the plateau, all the way to Lhasa.

Yet, Shaxi remains free of the tourist hordes that swarm the streets of Lijiang, a drive of just a couple of hours to the north, and Dali, a couple of hours to the south. They, too, have renovated ancient town centers, but the new homes and storefronts there were built haphazardly.

“When the Chinese do this, they think, ‘How can I attract as many people as possible to this place?’” said Chris Barclay, the American owner of a boutique guesthouse, the Old Theatre Inn, in the countryside outside the Sideng square. “None of that has happened here, which is great.”

Mr. Barclay and his wife have been using their own money to renovate thePear Orchard Temple, mainly in thanks to the fertility aspect of the goddess Guanyin there. His Thai wife, a Buddhist, became pregnant at age 45 after praying to Guanyin on a visit; their first child had died years earlier.

Mr. Barclay said he had also been inspired by the marketplace work done in Sideng.

That project began with Jacques Feiner, a Swiss conservation expert who had worked on the old city in Sana, Yemen. Around 2000, he was looking for a project along the South Silk Road and settled on the Shaxi Valley because the scale of the Sideng marketplace was manageable, said Huang Yinwu, a team leader and Swiss-trained architect.

At Mr. Feiner’s urging, the World Monuments Fund, based in New York, added the marketplace to its 2002 watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the government of Jianchuan County put together a conservation team.

Mr. Huang, originally from Hubei Province, joined the team and came to Shaxi in 2003. The team had an advantage doing conservation here: The local Bai carpenters are considered among the most skilled in China and get commissions across the country.

“In this process, the main purpose was to understand the local tradition, the local knowledge, the local craftsmanship,” Mr. Huang said. “We wanted to see how far we could go with the local knowledge.”

The team restored low-slung wooden facades around the old marketplace and a 100-year-old caravansary. Most of the plaza’s buildings are just a century old because they have been repeatedly rebuilt — bandits burned down the buildings in constant raids.

When the project began, most of the buildings had been abandoned. In 2006, the buds of commerce appeared. A couple from faraway Shenzhen asked to rent one of the smaller buildings near the theater; they wanted to live there and turn it into a cafe.

Mr. Huang said this went against his idea for the plaza — he had intended for the fronts to be shops and the interiors to be courtyards open to the public.

“I didn’t agree to that,” he said with a laugh as he sat in the square one recent morning, pointing to the Old Tree Cafe run by the couple. “The government wanted them to move in, so they started living there and running the business there.”

The Xingjiao Temple took four years to refurbish. A fierce blue guardian deity and a red one flank the main entrance. The Bai here worship local gods and practice Esoteric Buddhism.

“Having the temple and theater together facing each other is a local custom,” Mr. Huang said. “The locals think the Buddha should enjoy the performances along with the people. I’m working on another temple in Shaxi where there is a stage in the main temple area. You move a wooden god to face the stage.”

That temple, Chenghuang, is part of the next phase of the renovation project, as envisioned by Mr. Huang: founding community centers across Shaxi to help residents tap into the tourist economy.

Mr. Huang, who still lives in Shaxi even though his Swiss teammates have left, said the first such center would be at Chenghuang Temple. His plans call for the centers to have computers where villagers can go online; tourists following cycling and walking routes through the valley would mingle with the villagers at those centers.

Thirteen villages would be part of this network, and residents might start homegrown industries like craft beer to appeal to the tourist crowds, he said.

“We can have Internet-based education,” he said. “This is a way to help people to understand more and get the capability to develop things on their own.”

Guesthouses and cafes have boomed in Sideng Village, but they are mostly run by outsider Chinese rather than locals.

The Shaxi Horse Pen 46 Youth Hostel next to the central theater was opened in 2010 by Huo Wanfei, 36, who moved here from Sichuan Province after visiting as a backpacker. Now that the Swiss-led team is done with the plaza, these Chinese outsiders are the main force behind renovating buildings, mostly to start tourist businesses.

Ms. Huo said she had employed local carpenters and completed the renovation after much trial and error.

“It made me realize there’s a way in nature that makes things work out,” she said.

The evolution of the village is beginning to mirror what happened in Lijiang. The locals are renting out their homes to outsiders and moving elsewhere. So visitors to Sideng increasingly meet Chinese outsiders and not Bai locals like Ms. He.

“The market is driving Shaxi in this direction,” Mr. Huang said. “This is not something in our control. That is why I’m doing this new project to encourage a community economy.”


Day 1
中午12点半的飞机, spirits航空,飞机延误了约40分钟,2点左右到达new orleans机场。机场很破很旧,几乎是我去过的美国最破的机场,看来Katrina之后new orleans就真的一蹶不振。avis租车给了ford edge limited, 黑色真皮,还不错。离开机场,约20多分钟开到酒店The Roosevelt New Orleans (Click here to see hotel review),要在这里住三个晚上。Lobby很漂亮,到处都装饰上灯饰,一进门还有一个古老的很奇特的机械钟,不是钟摆的,而是旋转的。还是通过visa signature luxury hotel订得酒店(click here to see),给了1026房,据说还是升级了的,还送了一瓶香槟酒和巧克力。停车到旁边的self parking garage,$20 for 24 hr。研究功略,决定去Mr. B’s Bistrol(餐厅review)。5点左右离开酒店到旁边的french quarter,到处都是莺歌燕舞的,果然是lousyana。Mr.s B’s Bistrol要5点半才开门,先到处逛逛,看看商店,逛逛广场。走在French Quarter街上,有一霎那似乎感觉到了欧洲。回到bistrol b,我点了招牌菜bbq shrimp, LP点了grilled fish,还有两种gumbo。Gumbo棕色的,有股药材味,太奇葩了。

Day 2
起来在酒店café买早餐,通过visa signature luxury hotel订的酒店,给早餐券是每个大人每天一份面包,一份果汁,一份普通咖啡,也就刚刚够饱,另外(三天总共)给$25餐饮credit,可以在两个餐厅吃(不包括酒店最著名的那个意大利餐厅dominaca什么的)。吃过早餐,出发去西边郊区的oak alley plantation,要开一个小时。New orleans郊外都是沼泽,树长在水里,树上挂着moss。庄园还挺漂亮的,男主人虽然在美国出生,可还是把自己当法国人,说法语,吃法国菜。他的一个儿子后来成为café du mont的老板。给讲解的lady只有一只手臂,另一只因为车祸丧失了。午饭在庄园的餐厅解决。给弟弟买了一个本地特色沼泽动物的tattoo。约4点多回到new orleans市区,逛了下garden district,停车在magazine st的一片商业区下来走走逛逛,在一个cupcake/icecream/macaron点吃了点东西。因为明天就是thanksgiving,商店都早早关门。天黑之后回到canal street,到了riverside mall旁边的hilton酒店里的Drago’s海鲜餐厅吃 (Review),想找路边的停车位找了很就,最后还是停车在酒店garage,餐厅消费给停车$7 off优惠。点了生蚝,招牌碳烧蚝,pasta, jambolaya等。吃完了逛mall,看mississippi河夜景。外面风很大。

Day 3
今天是thanksgiving,旅游点都不开。决定去东边mississippi州和alabama州的海岸看看,有一个gulf island national seashore,据说可以看到alligator,甚至海豚。路上车流并不见少。11点多到达mississippi的一个海边小镇叫做Gulfport, 延绵十几mile都是白沙滩。停车下来玩沙。继续上路,在一个加油站买了吃的当作lunch了。前面经过一个town叫biloxi,有一个大赌场。来到gulf island national seashore的davis bayou区域,visitor center关门了,没有几个游客。四处看看,什么都没有,海湾里啥都没有,只有黄黄的海水。离开到了另一个bayou区域,游客似乎多了几个,有几辆车停在路边,似乎有东西。停好车下来看看,果然水边有一只鳄鱼在休息。离开时已经3点过了,决定不去alabama了,打道回府。回到市区,有parade,绕路饶了很远才回到酒店。走路去french quarter,想去吃的餐厅关门了,改到french market旁边的一家露天餐厅吃,有live music表演,等了好久才上菜。吃完晚饭,又去历史悠久的café du mont吃糖粉donut,喝咖啡。回来顺路参观了一下preservation hall,外面都是排队的人。Boudon街上热闹无比。

Day 4
今天要checkout换到另一个酒店 Sheraton New Orleans (review here),因为the roosevelt今晚要超300刀一晚。在酒店一个餐厅点了早餐吃。行李都搬到车上,开车逛了一个坟场,本地特色是棺材都放在地表上,再在上面修一个小房子。看完了去sheraton酒店想checkin,人多车多,等了好久才进到酒店门前。Valet parking要$47一晚,无异于抢钱。我还是把车停到the roosevelt旁边的garage,才$20。走路走5,6个block回来。她们三已经checkin好,住30楼。是用spg的10000积分换的房间,靠近电梯机房,白天还不觉得,晚上非常吵,简直没法入睡。稍作休息,下楼来到french quarter随便乱逛。看了Jackson广场,mississippi河岸边,french market,最后没地方可去了。去坐有轨电车,到了尽头下来是riverside mall。到mall里逛逛。早早在drago’s吃了晚饭。然后回到mall,在里面的café du mont的分店排队又吃了糖粉donut和咖啡。弟弟在一个专卖糖的店门口撞到头,为了补偿,给他们买了各种古怪形状的糖吃。走路回到酒店,路上风很大。酒店房间靠近电梯房,很吵,一晚上没睡好。

Day 5
酒店没有免费早餐,在房间吃的泡面。Checkout后,开车回到magazine st那家cupcake店买了些bakery,吃icecrema。然后就去机场。在机场买了些吃的。2点半的飞机准时起飞。下飞机后直奔老地方拉面馆解决晚餐,弟弟在车上睡着了,只能轮流进去餐厅吃。

Destinations at a Glance

You may click the marker on the map to see my trip guides. Enjoy!