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George W. Harnik
Nujiang Gorge George W Harnik with Lishu Gril at Fugong


Dear Judy:

View Tuesday, October 28, 2008 9:40:43 AM

This is a belated thank you note to you and your staff for the memorable and outstanding journey that Tom Nelson and I had to your magnificent Yunnan Province.

The last time we met was just a over a week ago, in my room at the Kunming Bank Hotel. You had asked us what the highlight of tour had been? Tom, speaking for both of us said: " there were so many that it is difficult to single out just one ! " I agreed with him fully!

Thinking about it some more, with distance lending perspective, I should say that, first and foremost, the efficiency, expertise and dedication with which Michael Deng, our bi-lingual guide for the major part of our trip, did his job, made it a big success. He knew the areas we visited intimately, was familiar wit local history, while at the same time looking out for our comfort and safety! Mr. Zhang, our driver, with whom we could not communicate directly, as we do not speak Chinese, signaled us his support with his actions and care in driving, even on the most hazardous roads. Also, at all of our meals, he was in charge of the tea and made sure, we always had a full cup...

As far as the sights were concerned, my most memorable times were the days we spent in going North and later South, in the spectacular Nujiang Gorge, visiting villages and admiring as well as listening to the noises made by that most turbulent river, as it fought its way through the rocks and boulders. We went past both, the first bend in the river as well as the Police check point to Bingzhonglou, where we had to the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the people on the old " Tea and Horse Caravan Road ", leading to Kalimpong and on to Lhasa. ( By coincidence, my family and I spent a couple of days in Kalimpong, in 1969, while returning from a trip to Sikkim. A very busy town where the caravans to and from Tibet were being organized and supplied there. )

We were both, completely taken by surprise with our visit to Yunnan Yi! On our way to Dali, Mr. Zhong turned off the Express Way, at Chuxiong and started to drive past, rice, barley and corn fields for some distance, when suddenly we arrived at the clearing where we saw, four rusty, old propeller planes, one I recognized as a U.S. Air Force, P 40, Air Cobra fighter plane. There were also some large stone rollers, used to level the earth for airplane runways, and a Memorial Plaque, set in stone, for the " Flying Tigers ". We ate lunch nearby and afterwards visited the village, which also has a Museum dedicated to the actions of these brave men. We were told that this was their first operating base, with an existing airstrip, which was later extended to accommodate multi-engine planes. We even saw a hand made sign with an arrow pointing West, labeled " Burma Road ", a branch of which passed by there.

This stop was not listed on our formal itinerary, but we appreciated it, as we both remember those days well!

Bingzhongluo COunty at Nujiang Gorge Church at Nujiang Gorge

Being an avid student and reader of History, I love book stores! I am most pleased to report that Michael took us to the well-known Mandarin Book Store, near Kunming University and even helped me track down a book store in the Old Town of Lijiang. As a result, I am now the proud owner of several books, which cover the subject of Tea Trade and some Naxi History.

Our lodgings were fine, ranging from 5 Star Hotels in Kunming and Jinhong, as well as Tina's Cottage, above the Tiger Leaping Gorge and a wonderful trekker's hostel in Saba, where our host and hostess entertained us at supper in their home, followed the next morning with a Tibetan breakfast of yak butter tea, tsampa and some dumplings. Our host even gave each of us, as a parting gift some of his home-made liquor. I must say, it was very strong!

The weather was fair most of the time. with some rain. Our sole complaint is that we never got to see Haba Snow Mountain; it was hidden by the clouds. We did see Jade Dragon Snow Mountain several times from the Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang. That snow-capped mountain was even visible on the horizon from Tom's hotel room window. When we first arrived at Yuanyang, it was cloudy, but with moving clouds, later, on the second day, we were able to get pictures of many of the, spectacular rice terraces. While Tom was walking along the mountain paths, to get better pictures, I stayed back in a nearby Hani Village, which had a Museum devoted to their history. I was pleased to note that virtually all of the signs were in Chinese and English, so I could learn about their 2000 year old history, starting on the Tibetan plateau, coming to area and building these terraces, while maintaining their ancient culture.

I also want to mention briefly, Vincent ( Yan Yu Heng ), our very competent and personable young guide in Jinhong. In the brief time of almost two days, we had learned a lot from him about Xihuangnbanna. A personable chap, a Bai from Dali, whose family moved him down there when he was a teen ager. He was well acquainted with the Dai villages, the fish paddies raising tilapia and most knowledgeable in explaining some of the unique flora of the superb Tropical Gardens, where we spent a better part of an afternoon.

While having supper at a very pleasant restaurant in town before going to the airport, we had a real, tropical downpour for over thirty minutes, the like of which I had only seen before during World War II, while serving in New Guinea!

A most memorable journey!

With heart-felt thanks and best wishes to you and your staff,

George W. Harnik

George Harnik



Click to visit the vivid tour itinerary: ECR0225

26 days Southwest China Minority adventure tour, tour to Shanghai, Kunming, Dali, Liuku, Nujiang Gorge, Gongshan, Fugong, Binzhong Luo, Dulong River, Lijiang, Shangri-la, Jinghong, Xishuangbanna, Yuanyang Terrace Field, Jianshui Travel


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