Boyang Captures China

Boyang’s back. 

We introduced him here on The Periphery over the winter. On those occasions, we got to see through Boyang’s lens the Asian islands Japan and Taiwan

This time, we tour the mainland of Asia’s defining country: China. The following are Boyang’s photos and observations from various regions and settings in China in 2015. 

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The first things that come to people’s mind when they hear “China” are large, modern metropolis with an unending sea of people and a Far East culture that is quite alien to them. And they are partially right. With more than 1.3 billion people and more than 5000 years of history, China is one of the oldest and the most populous country in the world.

Yet, it is also a place filled with undisturbed natural beauties as well as distinct tribal minorities that are far from what one would be exposed to in the media. This is my journey through China less traveled…

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One thing you will notice when you first land in China, assuming that you fly into one of the numerous metropolises in the eastern and southern region, is the grandiose feel of the their modern infrastructure–large in scale due to accommodate the extreme population density in the cities, but also a sense of boastfulness often covered with the veil of modesty.

At Shenyang Airport, Shenyang, China

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“So how’s your day today?”

At Mount Longhu

Given the breakneck pace of development in China, one would think everyone is hustling and bustling around everywhere, which is true in large and developed cities. However, in the countryside and less visited tourist areas, life happens at a leisurely pace.

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Tucked away in the belly of Southeast China is a small region of windy rivers and dome shaped sandstone Wuyi Mountains dotted with vegetation. In addition to this natural beauty, this has been an important religious center for Taoism since the 6th century and later in the 11th century for Confucianism.

At Wuyi Mountains

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Mount Sanqing (三清山), is the smaller brother of China’s most famous mountain, Mount Huang (Yellow Mountain, 黄山)–but equally as spectacular. And with the lesser status, it is much less touristy (and cheaper). Climbing the 10,000+ stairs and walking along the 12km+ ramp built straight out of the vertical mountain sides, I can’t say if I am impressed more by the breathtaking scenery or the amount of labor that was put into building these walkways.

At Mount Sanqing

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Rapeseed flower blooms are a popular tourist attraction in southern China. Used mostly for animal feeds, cooking oils and lubricants, rapeseed is one of the world’s oldest vegetables.

At Wuyuan, Jiangxi Province, China

During the full bloom (April), millions of tourists flock to southern China to get a glimpse of the picturesque, hilly mounds sticking out of a sea of yellow rapeseed flowers.

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Walking around and staying in a local homestay in the small villages of China is quite a different experience than what one would see on television. Not only do get to see how villagers live in a rural community, you also get to experience some of the cleanest and most serene environments that China has to offer.

Should you have the courage to wander into see parts of China alone or with a friend (i.e. not with tour groups), you will experience a side of China most will never see.

At Qingyuan, Jiangxi Province, China

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A misty waterfall during the rainy season in southern China.

At Mount Lu

Many people moan at the idea of visiting a scenic place when the weather is bad, but what they miss by not going is another side of the beauty.

Walking alone in the mountain trail in the thick clouds and quiet woods incites a feeling of mystery and wonder. You feel alone yet intimate at the same time. What is at the end of the path? What breathtaking scenery is hiding beyond that veil? If I call out to it, will it respond back?

 

At Mount Lu

When the wind blows swiftly, the scenery changes from moment to moment, sometimes giving you a little tease of what it is hiding underneath.

What a fantastic place to let your imagination run wild!

At Mount Lu

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Future gentleman, at Chishui, Guizhou Province

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FengHuang (凤凰), a frontier town in ancient China between the Han and Miao peoples, has been converted into a tourist attraction to display its ancient architecture and local traditions. While buildings are restored and most crafts are just for display, during the night is when the town sparks into life. On one side there are the tranquil stilted houses on the river bank brilliantly lighted with many colors, on the other side it is contrasted with nightclubs blasting dance music with flashes of laser light displays.

At Fenghuang, Hunan Province, China

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Dehang (德夯), which means “beautiful valley” in Miao–one of the 50+ ethnic groups that makes up China–is beautiful indeed. Surrounded by tall karst formations on both sides.

Despite the government’s efforts trying to promote this area as a tourist destination, you still are able to trek through the surrounding landscapes completely undisturbed–depending on the time you go.

 

 

 

 

[Editors note: The Miao are the ancestral ethnic brethren to the modern-day Hmong people of Southeast Asia. The Hmong today also thrive in areas of the US, including my home state Minnesota, from where I wrote a story about the Hmong’s assimilation to the Minnesota culture.]

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At Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie National Park, with its 3000+ of karst formations, is one of the top attractions in China. Uniquely formed from specific weather patterns and physical erosion, it has been described as being on a different world.In fact, the fictitious location Pandora in the film Avatar has been modeled off of these formations. And in honor of the movie, one of the columns has been renamed “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.”

At Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

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Hong Kong, once a backwater village, turned into a financial powerhouse under British rule after the first Opium War. At night, the skyline is a beautiful sight to behold.

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Chinglish poetry, a lighthearted revelation that translations aren’t perfect.

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Finally, what is a visit to China without a stop to see the giant pandas?

At Chengdu Panda Research Base, China

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“Never go through life without going on picnics and eating cakes.” -Boyang

Want to see more from Boyang? Follow his travels and photography (and video) on his Facebook page, Forever Lost. And if you’d like to share your story on The Periphery, please email me at Brandon@ThePeriphery.com. We’d love to hear all about your adventure.

What say you?