In reality I'll mostly be in cities; I've abandoned my grand plan to mosey about the countryside, as that originally relied on four weeks of travel time instead of the two I now find myself with. (One week was eaten up by a scheduling conflict, aka I misread the calendar; another by the PSB because of visa issues.) My traveling:staying ratio will also be pretty high. That said, I'm very excited for what's on the docket in my own personal Journey to the West; you can check out a map of my scheming at http://tinyurl.com/2g3ogtx. Here are the highlights:
1. Xi’An was the Chinese capital for over 1,000 years, and nearby waits the famous Terracotta Army.
2. Dunhuang is supposed to have the most impressive Buddhist grottoes in anywhere ever, made in early AD and successfully hidden from all roving conquerors.
3. Kashgar in one of the principal cities representing Islamic/Uighur China, and is said to host an absolutely amazing Sunday bazaar in true ancient-Silk-Road-hub fashion.
4. Turfan is probably one of the top half-dozen sources of Chinese historical artifacts (both written and material), and happens to be the hottest place in China, also known for its “singing sands” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singing_sands).
5. Urumqi and Yilin are both scenes of recent Uighur rioting and insurrection, but I may well drop one or both from the itinerary if it gets too tight or I feel like I'll be too tired to get much out of being there.
Look for a lot of blogging and a comprehensive program review on HBA when I get back. Also, I promise to take a lot of pictures.