Firstly- I want to express my concern for anyone on this forum who has been affected by the extreme weather conditions in China. I am sure that the Chinese people will be able to get through this situation, and I hope that the situation allows people to get back home in time to spend the holidays with their families.
Second- Thank you to everyone on this forum who has contributed and tried to help me with my travel plans. I understand that China is not so used to independent travellers who do not take organized tours. This is why your advice is so helpful for me.
Given the current weather situation in China, I decided to postpone my trip by three weeks, and I'll only be arriving in Hong Kong on the 19th of February.
My current plans are to start in Hong Kong, spend the remainder of the holidays there (including the Lantern Festival) and then head of to the Guilin-Yangshuo area for about a week or so. From there, I'd like to proceed to Zhangjiajie, and then on to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Huangshan, perhaps Kaifeng, and Beijing and the Great Wall.
What I am most interested in seeing on my trip is the countryside, and natural scenery is number one for me. Historical sites would be number two. Seeing the cities is number three.
Some questions still remain:
1. Is there a direct way to go from Guilin to Zhangjiajie, without stopping and switching over in Changsha? Besides- they're having a tough time now with transportation. If there's a more direct route, I'd prefer.
2. How practical is it to go from Zhangjiajie to the Tiger Leaping Gorge? I would love to hike in the area. My problem is that I must complete everything and be back in Shanghai no later than the 21st of March.
3. Any suggestions for the route between Shanghai and Beijing? Are there interesting points to spend time in?