Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Picture That Started It All

Back in 2003, when our plan to travel to China was first taking shape, Desi and Julie bought Z and me a few books about China, so we could begin learning about what we were in for.

One of these books, a National Geographic publication, had this incredible two page photo of a place, Yangshuo, we had never heard of. Julie and I, in particular, fell in love with this picture, and decided together that we would do whatever it took to find our way to the very place where the picture was taken.

In 2004, we were partially successful in making this happen. We pressed our traveling partners hard to make sure a trip to the Guilin area would be included in our itinerary. And so we had the chance to lay our own eyes on the limestone peaks that had captivated our imaginations.

But, we were told at that time by our guides, you cannot climb up to the top of the peaks. We didn't really believe this at the time, given that we were holding a photo that had obviously been taken from some particularly scenic summit. But, as they say in China, mei banfa. We had no choice, as we were on a tight schedule that is characteristic of domestic tours.

This time around, having the chance to experience Yangshuo on our own terms, we made sure to make time for a trip up to the top of Moon Hill (yes, you can climb to the summit!), where we had the sneaking suspicion that the picture in question had been taken.

Sure enough, Julie and I, all these years later, had finally made it to the very spot we had had in mind. We even climbed up onto this craggy rock where we determined that the original photograph had been taken.

Sure, we were there on a rainy day, while National Geographic highlighted the beauty of the place all bathed in sunlight. It was, nevertheless, as gorgeous as we had always imagined.

Our new pact? Let's get back to that spot together again, some time down the line. Right, Julie!?

~Steve

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