Friday, June 29, 2012

China - Dynamic Yunnan Day 1

You are at Jotaro's Blog / Footsteps / China-Yunnan Day 01    |    Jump To - Day 02 / 03 / 04 / 05 / 06 / 07 & 08
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China - Dynamic Yunnan 24th to 31st August 2011
Before we venture forth, first a bit about the culture and geography of the place. This will give a better insight into my experiences in this journey.

Yunnan. The name itself conjures up a mystery. The place itself is full of culture, life, variety & dynamic-ism. But if one look beyond what has been put forth to tourist, beyond the colorful tribal dresses, the mystery of the place is still there. Even in ancient China, tales abound about the southern tribes, full of magic and mysticism.

Yunnan Province China (click on map for larger view)
Yunan located in Southern China, to its south is Vietnam & Laos. To the west is Burma and to the north-west is Tibet. It reaches almost to India's Arunachai & Assam provinces. It is perhaps of this central location amid its cultural neighbors that have given rise to the richness in the culture of the place. Yes, Yunnan has its modern cities & highways; but the region has maintained it's old charm of colorful and diversified tribes. Out of China's 53 minority ethnic groups, almost half of them are found in Yunnan, most still practicing the old customs and wearing their beautiful tribal dresses. Okay then, let's get on with my travels.

Day 1 : 24th August 2011
Kunming un-Chineselike Architecture
We flew with Malyasian Airlines from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Kunming a 3-hr flight, reaching there just after noon. This was a private guided tour, so we were met by a couple of English speaking guides. Thank God! I am a Chinese Banana and can't hardly speak Mandarin.

More un-Chineselike Buildings
We boarded our tour bus and headed to Kunming City for lunch. Surprisingly, quite a number of the buildings didn't look Chinese at all. Are we in China? Yunnan is starting to give us a different viewpoint of China - China is not all Chinese!

Stone Forest Location Map (see Google Interactive Map)
We proceeded on the 2-hour's journey to the Stone Forest. What a strange name, and it conjured fantasized images in my mind - trees carved out of stones? Petrified forests?

Stone "trees" on the approach road to the Stone Forest. These were small, about 20ft tall.
But as we neared our destination, things became clearer. We saw natural stone columns, tall & slender sticking out from the ground - multitudes of them among the green landscape. And these weren't even the big ones as they are only about 30ft high, explained the guide.

Picturesque lake at entrance of Stone Forest Park
These preliminary views, whetted our curiosity and we held in our eagerness to reach Shilin, the location of the Stone Forest. A picturesque park greeted us at the entrance to the site.

Glimpse of the Stone Forest
Further in, we started to see bigger and taller rocks. This glimpse drew us further in.

The tall and colossal stones awed us, some of them reaching taller than 100ft. There were so many of them, even more than the real trees.

Strange rock formation
And also in many strange formation. This is truly a Stone Forest, a sight that has earned its place in the UNESCO Heritage Site List.

In one recess area, some tribal ladies dance to music by their male counterparts. A display of tribal culture that would be a start to our Tribal Adventures. The Stone Forest is fairly large and a walk around it would take around 2-3 hours.

We left the place, had dinner and was taken to the Hundred Tiger Boulevard - a wide avenue with embossed floor carvings of all sorts of Tigers, some from ancient China Legends. There we saw the "Thousand People Left Foot Dance". It was nothing but line dancing by many residents of the area - not that interesting, so no pictures.

We checked in to the Jinli Hotel in Alu, Luxi for the night.

Similar Posts :

China-Yunnan Day 2

China-Yunnan Day3

China-Yunnan Day 4

China-Yunnan Day 5

China-Yunnan Day 6

China-Yunnan Day 7 & 8

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