I followed Hannah as she swam over the sand and then up the gently sloping mountain of coral in front of us. I could feel the pressure subsiding—ninety feet, then seventy, sixty, forty—until we came to the top of the reef, at about thirty-five feet. There were green needlefish hovering here, a blue-tinged Caribbean spiny lobster jammed into a crevice, and waves of lettuce coral and gorgonian fans. A four-foot barracuda paid no attention to us, which is what you want from a barracuda. Decompressing in a motionless float, I shared the current with bright, tiny fairy basslets and a pair of gray angelfish that moved in devoted tandem. The reef was a vibrant collage of soft and hard coral thick with fish. Long barrel sponges gave shelter to a balloonfish, a school of mackerel whipped by, there was a black grouper, and an eagle ray fanned past on its way to the shallows.
Rafting the Yangtze River, China
The world’s greatest Communist supereconomy needs all the power it can get. The devil’s choice: Keep burning dirty coal, or tap into Yunnan’s crashing rivers for clean, cheap electricity. With dams rising up all around, PATRICK SYMMES joins a team of Chinese and American rafters as they outrun the concrete on a wild descent of [Continue Reading]
China Lost & Found
Marco Polo called Hangzhou—the cosmopolitan capital of China’s most decadent dynasties—“City of Heaven.” Eight centuries later, Patrick Symmes finds something familiar under the rising skyline: a refined pleasure dome where a good cup of tea melts all resistance It was 6:03, a porcelain dawn of fog and nothing else, when my body clock finally quit [Continue Reading]