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OK, where to begin?

It occurred to me last fall that since I am spending two years in Japan, so close to the Asian mainland, I should see China. An up-and-coming superpower and a huge industrial giant, it would help me if I saw the country up close and person as opposed to just reading books and hearing stories.

But I wanted to do more than get my picture taken at the Great Wall and visit Tiananmen Square -- that all seemed so mundane. I wanted to see the 'real' China, what the place was like outside of the urban cities and the centers of industry. Having read a bit about the silk road and Central Asian history, I decided to plot a journey that would bring me deep into the heart of Asia.

Of course, no one wants to do these things alone, so I started asking friends to join me. Some were vaguely interested, but most were noncommittal. However, my friend Roy Berman, a fellow New Jerseyan currently at Ritsumeikan, thought the trip sounded neat and signed up. That Christmas we planned our journey, and before we knew it we had bought tickets, arranged visas, and were ready to head out in early March for a one month trek around China.

Below you can see the route we took. The line tracks our route from Osaka to Shanghai by boat, cutting through the inland sea before entering the Pacific. On the Chinese mainland we went predominately by train except for the occasional bus ride. And from Urumqi back to Shanghai we took a very cheap flight via China Air.

Please note that all photos were taken by traveling companion Roy Berman, an almost-professional photographer.

Web page redesigned August 2005.

c. 2005 Christopher Gunson