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Backpacking in China
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Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Backpacking in China on 08/01/2010 16:21:31 MDT Print View

I just got a potential opportunity to live and work in China (Nanjing, Shanghai area) for a couple of years and I'm seriously considering it.

I was wondering what kind of overnight backpacking is available. Generally I do 3-7 day moderate solo trips. Can I find similar trips in China? Is safety from humans any more of a concern there than in the US?

How about access to basic supplies, fuel, etc?

Any trips that you recommend?

Thanks all.

Edited by nschmald on 08/01/2010 16:22:02 MDT.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Backpacking in China on 08/01/2010 18:05:11 MDT Print View

My family and I were in China for a year about 5 years ago. We never had time for actual backpacking but we were in charge of about 20 students who were interested in Backpacking, rock climbing, etc. Backpacking and camping are sort of boutique activities in China. Gear is relatively expensive, and there is plenty of fake Goretex. Everything must be bargained very hard. I would offer one fifth of a listed price and be prepared to walk away.Assume most batteries are fakes. In short, bring equipment you trust. You'll be able to get fuel like canisters, but little else . There are down jackets and tents , but nothing of very high quality. 5 years ago many people were traveling to music festivals and tenting there. People who were more serious about actually backpacking went to places like Leaping Tiger Gorge. You will find that China is very crowded and much of what you would think to be wild is actually cultivated land -all the way up to mountain tops.Many mountains have tramcars and steps going way up. Safety is usually much less of an issue in China. People may cheat you or steal your purse, but in general you will feel safe most of the time. In train stations people often wear their backpacks backwards facing forward to prevent thieves from slicing them open with a razor. Unless your Mandarin is ok, you will have some trouble negotiating in China, but the Expat community is large and you will find many people who will be happy to go on trips with you etc. Watch out for Chinese students who will want to practice their English with you endlessly. China is vast. Trains are great. The South has bamboo and Eucalyptus forests and Karst mountains. The North can be very cold and the desert is brutal. Shanghai and Nanjing are Temperate and hot and humid in Summer. We intended to go to a park in the far West of China which was referred to as "China's Yellowstone" but never made it. I suggest you subscribe to The Oriental list run by Peter Neville-Hadley and read his books on Beijing and The Silk Routes. I'll be happy to answer any questions if I can. Hiking the great Wall can be fun-many camp overnight in their Watchtowers illegally.
China is intense. My motto was " A kick in the head every 15 minutes". Whatever you do , don't let your employers use you by housing you in some suburb or working you 6 days a week. Investigate wages and rent. They will try to use you like crazy until you know better.2 years is a long time in China. It will seem like 4 in normal life. Good luck.

Edited by Meander on 08/01/2010 18:15:16 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Backpacking in China on 08/06/2010 00:28:27 MDT Print View

Nia:

I spent 3 months backpacking (hosteling) in China last year. If it's natural scenery you're after, you'll have a better experience in the southwest quadrant of the country -- Guangxi and Yunnan provinces are famous for their scenic beauty. If it's rugged beauty you are after, then the high plateaus of Qinghai/Tibet -- or the desert of the northwest are well worth a visit.

Backpacking trails as we know it are pretty nonexistent over there. To the extent there are trails, I think they either lead to historically sacred Taoist / Buddhist peaks (don't expect true wilderness there) -- or are in far away places that connect remote villages -- utilitarian trails and roads -- not trails cut for scenic purpose.

Googling around, I found a site that might be of interest to you (don't know anything about them though).

As above, China is intense -- intensely crowded and sometimes chaotic. But robbery and violent crimes are rare. Foreigners are a dime a dozen in Shanghai -- but once you venture out into the countryside, YOU will be the star attraction. Expect friendly -- but nonstop staring from people -- and keep up your humor.

Traffic woes aside, you will likely be much safer there than here.

Edited by ben2world on 08/06/2010 00:35:07 MDT.