“I’m back in China,” writes intrepid Correspondent Paul Terhorst, “this time traveling with my friend Ross. We left Laos, one of the world’s poorest countries, and entered China, just a few decades ago an even poorer country. But now China prospers. The border reflects the boom on the China side, from the huge modern arch to the rows of shop houses, all brand new and still mostly unoccupied, built for the future. Even the spiffy border guards seem to transmit the Chinese message to the world: ‘Welcome to the 21st century.’
“Our destination was the remarkable Yuanyang rice terraces. The two-day bus ride up from the border took us through whole mountains of tea terraces, mysterious hill tribe villages, small towns with their smoky markets, and stark river gorges.
“We finally reached the Yuanyang rice terraces, and I felt so privileged to be there. The locals have built and worked these terraces for centuries, by hand and with water buffaloes. In the process, they’ve produced a setting of majestic beauty.”