Tuesday, June 1, 2010


For our Memorial Day weekend, Qian and I went to central Missouri for a weekend of canoeing and camping with several of our friends. My friends from high school and I have been heading down to the Niangua River in Ozark country for about a decade now. It's always great times. This weekend was no different. There's really no downside to campfires, cabrewing (coolers full of beer on an eight mile, day-long canoe trip), and Missouri's unique topography.

This past weekend was the first time Qian and I had been outside of the Kansas City area since our honeymoon in St. Petersburg, Florida last September. Being unemployed and then freshly hired isn't conducive to travel. Regardless of the circumstances, it sucks that we haven't been able to travel more. Especially considering how much traveling I did while I was in China.

Although I've been stuck in Kansas City, my mind often floats to other parts of the world.

One of my favorite things to do when I'm bored and at a computer is go onto Google maps, find interesting places in the world, and then look those places up on Wikipedia to learn about their culture and history. For whatever reason, I often end up looking at islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and remote areas in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

A few days ago while looking up information on Alert, Nunavut in Canada (the northern most permanently-inhabited place on earth), I found the following random link - The Top 10 Most Remote Places on Planet Earth. I was really impressed by this list. It spanned the entire globe and introduced me to a number of places I've never heard of.

Number two on the list particularly caught my eye:

2. Motuo County, China


Considered the last county in China without a road leading to it, Motuo is a small community in the Tibetan Autonomous Region that remains one of the few places in Asia still untouched by the modern world. Just getting to Motuo is a Herculean task, as travelers must follow a grueling overland route through frozen parts of the Himalayas before crossing into the county by way of a 200-meter-long suspension bridge. The county is renowned for its beauty—Buddhist scripture regards it as Tibet’s holiest land—and it is said to be a virtual Eden of plant life, housing one-tenth of all flora in China. Despite its stunning geography and natural resources, Motuo still remains something of an island unto itself. Millions of dollars have been spent over the years in trying to build a serviceable road to it, but all attempts have eventually been abandoned because of mudslides, avalanches, and a generally volatile landscape. As the story goes, in the early 90s a makeshift highway was built that led from the outside world into the heart of Mutuo County. It lasted for only a few days before becoming un-passable, and was soon reclaimed by the dense forest. Photos: http://news.cultural-china.com

Read the Entire List
This place sounds really cool. Finding such remoteness in China, a country with the largest population and with a rapidly improving infrastructure, is surprising. Even in treacherous Tibet. I'd never heard of Motuo County and was happy to do some research on the place.

Here are some other interesting links on the Motuo, or Medog in Tibetan, County:

Image from Wikipedia

- An article on a guest house operator from China Daily
- A little bit of info on hiking Medog
- And, of course, articles from 2009 that to the county and that Medog now has 3G phone service!!

Argh! There is no remoteness anymore!!

I'm being somewhat facetious here. I'm sure that roads and 3G will be great for the people actually living there. But still, such modern advances have to take out a lot of the romance of visiting such a hard-to-get-to place.

I've been planning on writing something on Medog County for a couple weeks now. As it happens, my friend, Taylor, sent me an email today with some information about another incredible-looking, isolated place in southwest China.

The next remote place in southwest China that I'd never heard of before that I would love to now visit is Lexiaguo in Yunnan Province:

These images were sent to me in a chain email and I'm not real clear on who actually took these.

Here is the write-up that accompanied the chain email:
Lexiaguo - southwest of Kunming in Yunnan, China.

It is located in the southwestern part of Kunming, 2600 ft. above sea level, a remote area.
Because of its lack of infrastructure and inadequate transportation and lodging, most travel agencies would not think of going there.

But for those who have seen the pictures of the Red land, no one can resist being attracted to its beautiful scenery!
It looks like another blogger also received this chain email. ElaineR has a lot of good information on Lexiaguo (actually Laxiagou), or better known as Dongchuan Red Land (东川红土地). It turns out the chain email wasn't 100% correct. First, they got the name wrong. Second, Dongchuan is a place that travelers can get to.

I'm glad I received this email with these pictures. I learned something new today. But ElaineR's digging around on this email points out the factual inaccuracies that are common with chain email-types of information spreading.

Image from Wikipedia

I've been to Yunnan, specifically to Dali, Kunming, Tiger Leaping Gorge, and Kunming. I didn't even know about Dongchuan and, obviously, didn't go. It doesn't sound like Dong Chuan is nearly as remote as the chain email makes it sound to be though. I'm sure it's not an easy place to visit. But surely is no Medog County. And even Medog County doesn't sound that remote any more.

I'm not really sure what the point of this post has ended up being. Another one of my meandering posts. I guess it's just highlighting two places that I've never been to, just found out about, and hope to one day have the chance to visit.

Traveling makes life colorful. I'd somewhat forgotten that not having traveled at all recently. I hope that Qian and I have some more time to get out of KC and see more of America in the coming months.


Ramesh said...

Wow - those pictures of Dongchuan are amazingly beautiful.

There's something wildly evocative about remote places.

DXer said...

As you sugges, Mark, this chain letter is a bit suspicious. I have also been to Yunnan many times. I have never heard of Laxiagou. Dongchuan is in Pu'er, where the strong red tea comes from, so it is conceivable. But the way this letter is distributed makes me suspect a scam. I wonder if there is some kind of virus in it?

Leon Koh said...

Its nice surfing into your blog..amazing landscape.. I so want to go there

Leon Koh
Your reader from SingaBore
my blog : http://hanleong.blogspot.com