Our Trailblazers series sees Lonely Planet's guidebook writers reflect on past adventures, reminisce a little, and compare their experiences past and present. Here, our Melbourne-based writer Steve Waters recalls his time researching in China, when the country was starting to emerge from isolationism.
Panda lovers – rejoice! Fans of the world's most adorable vulnerable bear species have a few new reasons to celebrate the animal; about 27,134 km² worth. Stretching across China's Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces, plans for the newly proposed 'Giant Panda National Park' (大熊猫国家公园) are expected to be formalized as soon as the end of 2019.
In a hidden corner of southwest China, a mountainous province remains secreted away from the travel trail. Little-known Guizhou is sandwiched in between more popular neighbours Yunnan, Sichuan and Guangxi, and rarely gets any attention. But Guizhou is rich in all of the things that draw travellers to China: mythic scroll-painting mountains, diverse cultures and truly remarkable food.