Blogs from Yunnan, China, Asia


Asia » China » Yunnan February 4th 2014

Kunming is home to approximately 3.5 million people representing all 26 minority ethic groups in the province. About 75 miles from Kunming is the "Stone Forest", covering 96,000 acres, containing both large and small forests as well as lakes and waterfalls. About 270 million years ago the region was covered by the sea. Over time the waters receded, uncovering a massive bed of limestone pinnacles which due to time and the elements, have been whittled into tree-like forms, rising in densely packed groupings that do resemble a forest. In the evening we enjoyed a folklore show featuring Sani women in their native costumes. These dancers were part of the opening show at the Beijing Olympics.... read more

Asia » China » Yunnan November 29th 2013

I had started coughing on the bus from Tacheng to Lijiang the day after seeing the snub-nosed monkeys. I thought I was just getting a cold or perhaps it was all the cigarette smoke in the bus. In Lijiang the coughing got worse and then I got chills, and they were multiplying. Maybe it was Yunnan Monkey Pox, or Bird Flu, or China Syndrome whatever that is. I haven't been bitten by anything for ages, having been at higher altitudes for more than the last month, so it wasn't anything insect-borne; it must have been a virus. The chills turned into the hot and cold shivery-shakes. I turned the electric blanket on the bed up to full, put on all my clothes and made myself a sauna with the covers. All night I did not sleep, ... read more

Asia » China » Yunnan » Lijiang November 28th 2013

I had some weighty thoughts about drunken singing stints in an old city night club but let me just say we had fun last night and the band, for some reason, kept buying me beer. Always a mistake. Jinyi got some kids from Shenzhen up dancing with us so it wasn't so embarrassing until the bandleader kept asking me to sing the final song. I thought he meant we were to get up and dance one last time but he wanted me to sing and Jinyi was running around snapping photos so …. Sorry about that China: Hey Jude never sounded so bad! I'm adding as many photos as I can. Hope you can understand how to get here.... read more
Haike Banquet 2, Mao Watching Down
Beam Settling Lijiang
Yan, David, Jinyi

Asia » China » Yunnan » Lijiang November 27th 2013

I am sitting in the corridor outside our room in Lijiang, China’s World Heritage Site, designated for its ancient, eight-hundred year-old city two blocks from this very unancient, very spartan but comfortable ten-dollar a night hotel. The noise of China washes over me. At first I tried just listing what I was hearing. Because it kept changing, even as I moved my notes around in a circle, recording what I heard, I couldn't make it make sense. Now I am trying again, but this time I will pay attention to types and sources of sound in this country that has created the most wild and busy construction zones on the planet, where even in the most remote villages I see through a train window huge bridges are being built, brick houses with rebar reinforced corners and ... read more

Asia » China » Yunnan » Lijiang November 18th 2013

One of the special animals of China is the snub-nosed monkey. There are actually five species. The golden snub-nosed monkey is the most widespread but also annoyingly difficult to see, especially now that China has forbidden access by foreigners to all the habituated troups (this was the species I went to Zhouzhi to try and see and was refused admittance). Then there's the Yunnan or black snub-nosed monkey which is restricted to a small area of northwest Yunnan, and the Guizhou or grey snub-nosed monkey which is found on just one mountain in Guizhou. These second two species were both formerly treated as subspecies of the golden monkey, which is quite ridiculous if you see how completely different they all are! Down in North Vietnam is the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, and over in Burma is the ... read more


Asia » China » Yunnan » Shangri-La October 26th 2013

We got up early on the morning of October 26, and I said goodbye to Selective Tours' Managing Director Christine who was to return to Sydney. I, however, was lucky enough to be embarking on a short tour of other areas in the province. Our first stop this day was Kunming Airport, where we boarded our flight to Shangri-La. Shangri-La is the main county in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Dêqên, which is situated in north-west Yunnan, bordering Sichuan and Tibet. It can be reached by air from Kunming, with flights taking approximately one hour. The county was named Zhongdian until 2001, when it was renamed Shangri-La as it claims to be the inspiration for the fictional Shangri-La described in the 1933 novel ‘Lost Horizon’ by British author James Hilton. In the novel, Shangri-La is described ... read more
Shuhu Lake, Potatso National Park
Shuhu Lake, Potatso National Park
Tibetan Prayer Flags at Potatso National Park

Asia » China » Yunnan » Kunming October 25th 2013

Kunming is a bustling, vibrant city with a population of nearly 6.5 million. The city is located at the northern edge of the large Dian Chi Lake and contains a plethora of parks, museums, bars and nightclubs. Kunming is famous for its Stone Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage listed site. It is about an hour’s drive out of the city. The Stone Forest is a huge set of impressive limestone formations protruding from the ground, giving the impression of a forest made of stone. According to a legend of the Yi minority group, the forest is the birthplace of a beautiful girl called Ashima, who was turned into a stone after being forbidden to marry the man she loved. The Stone Forest was my first stop on my Kunming adventure, and it was a spectacular experience: ... read more
Western Hills
Kan To Night Markets

Asia » China » Yunnan » Kunming October 24th 2013

I absolutely love travelling. I love the excitement of being in a new place, and I love seeing amazing new things and meeting some incredible people. But I really don't like flying. My flight to Kunming went via Shanghai, and although it was only 10 hours, it felt so long. But in contrast, the flight from Shanghai to Kunming felt like nothing, because I slept most of the way. And it was a good thing that I did, too, because by the time we landed at Kunming, got our bags, were greeted at the airport by representatives from the China International Travel Mart, and were driven to our hotel, it was about 2.30am when I got to my room. That's 5.30am Sydney time! We had to get up at 6am this morning, so I only had ... read more
Selective Tours Managing Director Christine with our supplier in Tibet
Some of the amazing costumes!
Some more amazing costumes

Asia » China » Yunnan » Kunming October 11th 2013

I guess it's third time lucky after all. Because of my scheduling difficulties with the short 15-day free visa I had, I decided to bypass the provincial capital of Kunming in transit twice during my first two weeks here in Yunnan as I made my way up through the province, telling myself I would come back again. And indeed I finally did. After an early morning 7h bus ride northwards again, I finally arrived back in Kunming for what I guess would be my last time in a while. And this time, I did indeed manage to stay several days to check it out. Kunming is pretty much everything you would expect from a large Chinese city. Sprawling, densely-populated with heavy traffic, and with a mixture of the spanking new skyscrapers that have become symbolic of ... read more
Yunnan Museum
Grand View Park
Chicken in a...Sack?

Asia » China » Yunnan » Yuanyang October 8th 2013

And so with my fresh new visa, I was ready to back-trek a little to finish up my plans for Yunnan, and my next stop was the famed Yuanyang rice terraces, a 4.5h hour bus ride from Hekou. Now I've seen my fair share of rice terraces and padi fields the past year and a half or so. Most notable of course were those in the Cordilleras Highlands in North Luzon, Philippines, which were truly stunning. But basically any long bus ride you take in pretty much any Southeast Asian country (bar Singapore, and maybe Malaysia) would probably take you through swathes of rice padi. So I wasn't so sure if I would be impressed anymore by what Yunnan had to offer, as enticing as the write-up in LP sounded. And indeed the first location in ... read more
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