Among the many associations Westerners have of China, vast, pristine nature is usually not one of them. It wasn’t one of mine – but I quickly discovered the endless offering of China’s natural wonders. It’s only logical that a country of this size is home to some of the most awesome landscapes in the world. We had the privilege of visiting some of these on a recent trip to the southern provinceof Yunnanat the end of April/early May. The images are in the slide show – please take note of the highlights Tiger Leaping Gorge and Lugu Lake(a bumpy 7-hour bus ride in the direction of the Sichuanborder).

As China opens its doors to more and more foreigners and the Chinese themselves have more disposable income to spend on discovering their own country, the designated tourist sites (UNESCO Heritage Sites and others) are becoming even more overrun with curious visitors. For us, the key to touring China and enjoying its sites has been figuring out how to escape the crowds. Some of this depends on timing (which season, which day of the week, which hour of the day) and some depends on accessibility (those areas out of reach are usually goldmines). We apparently got it right at the Tiger Leaping Gorge and Lugu Lake. The hikes at both places were some of the most peaceful I have experienced in China. In fact, if anyone reading this happens to visit the Gorge, I would not only recommend taking the “high trail”- but also to keep going as long as time allows. We had to turn around after 2 days, but ideally we would have kept hiking all the way to Shangri-La on the Tibetan border.

Using the quaint ancient town of Lijiang as our home base, Isilsu, Patrick and I had an amazing 9 days discovering this corner of a province that has so much to offer, including the most concentration of China’s ethnic minorities. We decided to maximize the time at our top destination choices, spontaneously cutting out a few stops on our itinerary (for example the “must-see” Jade Snow Mountain). Even with rain pursuing us at every turn, we were lucky to enjoy several sunny days. The food in this region leaves something to be desired, but the people are incredibly friendly and warm. Often we were invited into their homes to enjoy meals consisting of pig lard and a variety of fried vegetables (the meat is cured for several years and trimmed off a carcass that usually shares the sleeping/eating quarters with the family).

As the world of nature’s wonders has opened at our feet, we are now considering the possibilities for our next trip at the beginning of August with our dear friends Berni and Karin. Should we venture to the Sichuan mountaintops (only those areas that were not affected by the earthquake) or head south to the tropical part of Yunnan that borders on Thailand and Laos? Or should we go West to the northern Xinjiang province to see the China even most Chinese are not familiar with? To be continued…

About the author

No Comments

Leave Your Comment