Li-An Lodge
Ping An Village, Heping Xiang, Longsheng County
Guilin, Guangxi, China
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Lodge Creator Keren Su

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A self-taught Chinese painter, photographer, adventurer, world traveler and culture explorer, Keren Su is living proof of the Chinese adage that says one must travel thousands of miles and read thousands of books before speaking with the weight of authority. In China, Keren is known for three firsts: he is the first person to ride a one gear bicycle across China, to motorbike around China and to raft with a self-made innertube raft down the Tarim river - the world's longest interior river.

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Keren was born in the picturesque coastal city Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province in China. During the disastrous Cultural Revolution, he was separated from his family and sent to a distant labor camp in China's northeast region. After returning from the fields at the end of this period, Keren continued with his education and graduated from the Hangzhou Teacher's Institute in 1981. He set out to cross China on a bicycle, beginning in Hangzhou and ending 57 days later in Urumqi in Xinjiang Province. His solo trip carried him 3000 miles, through eight provinces and autonomous regions. The journey was an education in itself. Along the way he met bee keepers, cotton bluffers and boat rowers, sipped sweet wine with northern Shanxi farmers in the field, ate potatoes with Gansu peasants in a cave and drank yak butter tea with Tibetans in a felt yurt on the Qinghai plateau. He took photographs, sketched pictures, recorded conversations and wrote poems.

While some might be content to stay in place after such a journey, Keren's trip nourished the adventure in him. He then traveled over 12,000 miles of China's southern province borders on a motorcycle, entering regions so remote that many of the inhabitants had never before seen mechanized means of transportation.

Keren first came to the United States at the end of 1987 when he toured coast to coast with his slide presentations and art exhibitions. During the summer of 1987, Keren organized and headed the first rafting expedition down the world's longest interior river, the Tarim (Tali Mu). With characteristic ingenuity, he fabricated rafts for the adventure from gigantic inner tubes lashed together with hand-braided plastic rope. Their progress was followed closely by the news media; Keren and his team became heroes among the Chinese. As a mountain guide for the China Mountaineering Association, he guided many trekking and climbing teams to Mt. Everest, K2, the Pamir Plateau and many remote areas in China. Because of his extensive mountaineering experience Keren was named coordinator and worked for the 1990 Peace Expedition to Mt. Everest. Comprised of mountain climbers from the United States, the Soviet Union and China, this was the first international expedition to Mt. Everest for those three countries. On less rigorous adventures, Keren guided many photographers and people to remote areas of China.

As a result of his intensive travel in China, Keren has published written and photographic accounts of the lives of Chinese minority people, their folk art and customs, capturing glimpses of many never before-seen parts of the land and the people who live there. Numerous awards have been bestowed on him for his photography of people and nature. He has been honored by membership in the Chinese photography Association and the Silk Road fine Art Academy. His stories were carried on many newspapers and magazines including the Washington Post. He has published his photo books of pandas and Siberian tigers in the USA, Japan and China. World renown magazines such as National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, Forbes and many children's books have featured his photographs. Keren's images of China are represented in the United States by photographic stock agencies such as Getty Images and Corbis, as well as others in countries like Japan, Germany, England, etc. His unique slide shows about China are welcomed by many people on both coasts in the United States, which not only widens the vision of China for western people but also for the Chinese themselves.

Keren is also known for his painting talents. Encouraged in the arts since childhood when he first learned calligraphy, he is an accomplished sumi artist who recently developed a new style of this ink on rice paper painting. Keren's art has been exhibited widely through out the United States, including Seattle's Fry Art museum, Twin Cranes Gallery and Harrison Gallery in Seattle Culture Center. Currently he lives in the Seattle area where he devotes his time to photography, painting and putting together special tours to China as the founder of China Span. In addition to being a China travel expert, he has led trips or traveled on his own to all the continents including Antarctica and the Arctic.