Originally this blog was intended to keep friends and family up to date with my travels in China. It worked far better than sending postcards and it was great to be able to share photographs and videos of my adventures. Now, though, I am going to start blogging about my publishing journey. The book is written but that seems to be a relatively small and simple part of the process – a journey from ‘twinkle in the eye’ to embryological development. I now have to get through the gestation process.

I am anxiously awaiting the return of the manuscript of “Stranger In My Heart” from the editor. I was expecting it last week but nothing has turned up yet. This is like the 12 week scan, when I shall see if there is a healthy heartbeat and the right number of limbs. After that I will have to do a lot of work. Everyone says that you have to ‘kill your darlings’ – allow cuts and changes even to your favourite passages – in order for the book to work well. I will try not to be too defensive but I hope that there isn’t a total rewrite to do as I am rather busy doing other things. I am also looking for people who might write reviews for me. I have contacted some celebrity supporters of the Riding for the Disabled Association (I’m donating some of the book proceeds to the RDA) and I have a well known author or two up my sleeve, but any suggestions gratefully received.

I am going to the Greek Islands in a couple of days for a holiday – it has been a tough year for me, healthwise, and I am hoping to come home with renewed vigour. I may or may not post while I’m away, depending on WiFi availability, inclination and newsworthy news!

On the road to Shangri-La

Today we headed north towards the snowy peaks of the Himalayas. First stop was the ‘first bend of the Yangtze River’. Three rivers rise in the north and head south through the mountains. Two of them continue south and join the Mekong, emptying in the South China Sea. The Yangtze makes a different choice – at this spot it makes a U-bend that then leads it eastward across China, ultimately reaching the sea at Shanghai. At this season, before the rains, the river looks charming and benign, but in a month or two it will be an iron-red raging torrent. We strolled through the little town next to the bend and snacked on deep fried potatoes with chilli.

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We continued on to Tiger Leaping Gorge (still the upper Yangtze, here known as Jinsha river). I had toyed with the idea of hiking the gorge for a couple of days but all the guidebooks say it is extremely steep and demanding, especially on the knees. Not for me these days. Instead we drove to the inevitable visitor centre, with walkways, viewing platforms and tat shops. Even so it was a considerable descent to reach the river and a stiff climb back up. No matter all the trappings of tourism, it is still stunning. Hydro power is growing massively in China and there was talk of flooding the gorge to create a dam. As well as affecting tourism, this would have displaced about 100,000 Naxi people. In a rare response to public outcry, the dam project has been shelved. However, there are still plans for dams higher up and lower down, so it is not all good news.

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We climbed from 2400m at Lijiang to 3200m at Shangri-La, via spectacular mountain scenery. We are close to Tibet here and the flavour of the town is very much Tibetan rather than Chinese. Goats gave way to yaks, pagoda style roofs disappeared and traditional Tibetan houses started to appear, signs started to be in Tibetan script as well as Chinese characters and prayer flags were flying everywhere. It’s also much colder here, but still good weather. There was a major fire in Shangri-La last year that destroyed about 400 houses in the old town. I’m not sure how much that will affect the look of the place.