This story is not part of The Trip series. It is based on a previous trip to Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
by DAN WASHBURN
There were times during my pursuit of the world’s second-largest transnational waterfall that I began to wonder: Just how many transnational waterfalls are there in the world anyway? What if my trek through the rarely visited southwest section of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region led me to a trickle instead of a fall? What if Detian Waterfall, which straddles the Sino-Vietnamese border, earned the “second-largest” distinction by default? What if the list is Niagara and not much else?
There are a lot of what ifs when traveling in this often ignored corner of China. Most people who visit Guangxi stick to the well-worn paths of the northeast. There, the city of Guilin has long been a popular tourist destination — Chinese, who visit by the busload, describe the city as “famous” — and the nearby village of Yangshuo has evolved into one of China’s only legitimate backpacker havens, with a decidedly “un-Chinese” feel. The region’s landscape is truly breathtaking. But its popularity has spawned an atmosphere heavy on touristy kitsch, in which every foreigner — and there are plenty — is a walking mark, a dollar sign in the eyes of some budding entrepreneur.
Travel southwest a couple hundred miles and the dollar signs are replaced by question marks. Stares are long and hard. But then they end, and no one has tried to sell you anything. They’re too busy wondering what you are doing there — in these parts, you can go weeks without seeing another foreign face.
China takes a swing at America’s Pastime
A version of this story appeared in the July 18, 2004 edition of the South China Morning Post (subscription required).
by DAN WASHBURN
SHANGHAI — Seattle Mariners scout Ted Heid has spent the past four years searching China for “diamonds in the rough.” He hasn’t found any yet. Right now, he says, he is closely monitoring the progress of a lot of “lumps of coal.” But Heid will be back in Beijing and Shanghai next year, and the year after that. China’s baseball boom is coming … sometime. Only no one seems to be sure when it will finally arrive.
“You can’t discount China in anything, whether it is business or any athletic event,” said Heid, the Mariners’ Director of Pacific Rim Operations. “Once they make it a focus, their greatest asset is people.”