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China is simply amazing, the culture, landscape, its people, lifestyle, everything. I spent a few days touring around the country's southwest region-Yunnan, which is a diverse and captivating place and I feel obliged to tell you my story and hope all people who are as enthusiastic on travel as I can experience the region one day.?
I visited Kunming Dali, Lijiang, zhongdian, hiked the Tiger Leaping Gorge, tasting the local food, having a close-up view of its people.
I took a morning flight from Xi'an to Kunming and visited the Stone Forest that afternoon. The Stone Forest is quite a way-about 2 hours from Kunming. Interests en route were those beautiful legends related to the coming sight of Stone Forest. Our guide told us a few of them but I could only remember one. It was said a heroine Asham of the Sani( the Sani people are a branch of the Yi nationality living in Yunnan province) was bore into a poor family in today's Yunan region. The girl was very clever and she began helping her father herd sheep at the age of 12. One day in the mountains she saved a boy named Ahei who had lost his way while picking wild fruit. Ahei, a 12-year-old orphan, had to toil for the landlord. Sympathizing with the poor boy, Ashma took him home. Ashma's parents took pity on Ahei and fostered him. Ahei and Ashma grew up together and they fell in love with each other. They got married and lived a happy life. But Ashma was later abducted by the man, Azhi, the landlord's son who was eager for the lady's beauty. When Ahei-the husband learnt the event, he killed the landlord and his son and rescued his wife-Ashma. The lovers went into the stone forest and lived happily there ever after, giving birth to fine sons and daughters who are said to be the ancestors of the Sani people.
From afar, it really looks like a dense forest but as you walk closer, you will find "trees"are all slender stone pinnacles. The sight is vast covering some 350 kilometers. It was high tourism season here and the Stone Forest was filled with tourists, some Chinese guides yelling at their tour groups.?
I had the next few days explore the city of Kunming, including a local market, a historic area, and a pagoda where retirees hang out and play mahjong. I came across a Wal-Mart on our way, which is a large supermarket almost everything you can think of was available for sale. The place was absolutely packed with people who filled the aisles and were buying a huge variety of products. There three floors - one for food (including live fish markets and a wide variety of fresh meats), one for home products and another for apparel. It was interesting to watch people shop, see the Chinese "Everyday Low Price" signs and check out the prices.
The weather was very pleasant, 23 centigrade and we had comfortable sunshine. Kunming renowned as "City of Eternal Spring"enjoys great weather year-round,. It is a mid-size city with a population of 4 million, and is actually a very pleasant place. The streets are lively and very clean, and there are many open areas for walking and relaxing. I found a very interesting local market that seems to sell everything imaginable. The streets were crowded with local residents buying food, products for their homes and pets. Several street vendors were selling fried potato and tofu(bean curd) on skewers.
I then walked through the main downtown area, which was filled with large malls and young people stylishly dressed. The stores contain many international brands, and clearly cater to an upscale crowd.
Dali is a very nice, tiny town with good Chinese architecture. The scenery around Dali is really nice, lush mountains, fertile farms, and Erhai Lake is near by. I took a local bus from Dali to Lijiang .On the way, I saw farmers’ houses, lush mountains, people working on the farms, kids playing besides the road. Interestingly, I found some young ladies were wearing their traditional Bai costumes.
Lijiang is another interesting ancient Naxi town, which was added to the UNESCO site in 1997. It is home to the Naxi people who have lived here for thousands of years and keep some of their centuries-old tradition. Old buildings and the tiny shiny streets linking them are features of the town. The streaming flowing between the buildings and stone bridges on them give the town even more charm. Another fabulous thing about Lijiang is the "Jade Dragon Snow Mountain" looming over the town. It's really quite nice to be able to see the snow capped mountain everywhere you walk.
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge is a deep gorge carved by some awesome rapids that run between two mountains. It is named so because legend says that a tiger was seen leaping across the gorge.
The trail runs along the northern side of the gorge. Occasionally along the trail which runs along the northern side of the gorge, are little mountain villages where farmers are working in terraced fields with their yaks, donkeys, or horses. You can also see herds of goats on their own or being herded along by a farmer.
Approximately every two hours along the trail you will encounter one or two guest houses. Guest houses are similar to the farmers houses which are set up in a quadrangle. There is a square concrete patio surrounded by 3-4 buildings. One building contains the kitchen and an indoor eating area. The other 2-3 buildings contain guest rooms. All of the guest houses have full menus, hot showers, and nice cozy beds. So hiking here is relatively easy since you don't need to carry anything besides clothing in your backpack. The awesome part about these guest houses is that you can sit out on the patios and look straight across the gorge at the snow capped mountains.
We hiked in this area for two days. At points we were probably 1.5km up the mountainside and at other times right next to the rapids. This was an amazing hike. Only about one hour in we were enjoying the peace, quiet.
I took a local bus for my final destination of this trip-Zhongdian. The bus journey turned out to be quite interesting. We drove around hairpin turns only feet from a cliff; bouncing over rough roads.
Zhongdian is an interesting town in the utmost southwest of China. The town is somewhat developed, but there are still cows wandering through town, tractors rolling down the streets, cattle skulls still dripping blood sitting outside shops. Outside of town there are numerous cows, yaks, and pigs just walking around the fields, even crossing the highway at will. Here you see a few of the more urbanized cows making their way through town roaming on the grass. As we ate dinner we saw them walking from one side to another, munching away. There was no one watching over them, they were completely on their own.
My trip was fantastic covering some key attractions in the region and I will surely make it twice in the future.