ABOUT the JOURNEY
Backpack Yunnan for honeymoon? The thought alone does not immeduately conjure a romantic picture for any newly weds. Paris or London would do more justice to that. Afterall, why go through the hassle and risk of a third world slump, filthy toilets and crummy public buses?
In truth, beyond the inconvenience lies a real gem. China is abuzz with culture and life that comes with its newfound prosperity. Yet, there will be pockets of China which remain in a perpetual time warp. Yunnan is one such place..almost like a microsm of the motherland but with its distinct provincial flavour that is more akin to a crossroad of Southeast Asian cultures.
Our journey took us from Kunming to Dali (where the Mild Seven Outdoor Challenge was held in 1997/98), Lijiang, Zhongdian and back in 2 weeks. We liked Zhongdian best because of its Tibetan surrounds but for 2 citizens of the tropics, the cold was a little too chilly. In fact, not far away from this little dusty town is a Tibetan lamasery that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Potola Palace in Lhasa. Zhongdian has been used as the springboard for the more gung-ho foreign travellers to sneak into Tibet. For all its worth, zhongdian is better known amongst the locals as the Shangri-la.
The ancient city of Lijiang is one hell of a survivor....it endured hundreds of years of history and an earthquake that devastated the newer city of Lijiang in 1996 to earn the UN World Heritage recognition. We had, by far, one of the most interesting stay-ins here. The guest house that we stayed has this courtyard that one immediately associates with the traditional houses in China. The narrow alleys and cobbled roads of Lijiang make the place all the more unique but for the hoard of local tourists, we just wanted to scramp.
Dali is well, another Lijiang except more spaced out. But when you're blessed with mountain and lake views, you can't help but fall in love all over again. Food has got to be the one thing we remember best....the hot peppery fish soup (fish fresh from Erhai Lake) is just perfect for a chilly autumn night.
Last but not least, Kunming. Hmm, didn't leave that big an impression on us other than the super delicious Guo Jiao Mi Xian...a vermicelli meal with the assortment of meat and fantabulous soup base. Story has it that long, long time ago, there was a scholar whose wife had to cross a long wooden bridge over the lake to bring the noodles to him while he mugged for his imperial examinations. To keep the broth warm, a layer of oil was put on the surface. Warm enough, in fact, to cook the rest of the ingredients for her husband's meal in the broth after she crossed the bridge.
China, romantic? You bet!
Yunnan Gallery Index People (Gallery 1)