Yunnan was my last and final destination of this trip! Positioned next to Tibet, Yunnan is one of the most spiritual places in the world. There I had a completely different experience from Xian and Sichuan. Some people would say I felt “one with god”. This was a land of peace, beauty, hope, and wonder, the magical secret garden of China. This is a simple world filled with simple people just like you and me and surrounded with the only medicine in the world, kindness and love.
When I first arrived, I flew into the Lijian airport. Lijian is the closest city abound the famous snow capped mountains, Tiger Leaping Gorge and the legendary Shangri-la. Many travellers usually fly into Kunming(the capital of Yunnan) and take a tour via Dali-Lijian-Shangri-la-Kumming-home. I was a little strapped for time at this point in my trip so I decided to fly directly into see the nature sceneries and less of the city sights of Yunnan.
Back in Shanghai, I had just received a we chat message from one of the employees at my doggy day care where I had placed my 1 year old rescue pup. I found out that the doggy day care which I have been using everyday for the past year had gone from “ok” to “out of business” in a weeks time, and when I asked them how long do I have, they responded with a stern answer, “a few days”. So after hearing that sudden news, I knew I only had a few days in Yunnan to explore and had to make the most out of the time I had.
There are many minorities that live in Yunnan. Ethnic minorities in Yunnan account for about 34 percent of its total population. Major ethnic groups include Yi, Bai, Hani, Zhuang, Dai and Miao. I stayed at a little village in Lijian on the outskirts of the city where there were many Naxi and Bai people there. The minorities did not speak the same language however everyone was required to learn Mandarin at school so there they would communicate through mandarin.The hotel I stayed in was situated on the bottom of a snow capped mountain called Jade Dragon snow mountain. When I arrived, the hotel employees greeted me with much kindness and compassion and would take me on a tour around the small village, and cook me dinner at night. We shared laughters and share stories everynight over pots of Pu er tea(which is Yunnan’s staple) and watched Chinese TV on a huge flatscreen. One story I learnt while I was there was about the tea trading from Yunnan to TIbet. Back in the days, Tibet wanted tea and China wanted horses. So the story goes that the Yunnanese traders packed and compressed inferior fermented Pu’er tea into bricks and put them into sacks carried by mules. On the road around mountains and plateaus for miles baking under the high-altitude sun, the tea absorbed the sweat and heat from the mules carrying the bricks creating a new flavor altogether that the Tibetans liked. This became the fermented Pu er tea that we now drink today.
The next day, the hotel receptionist took me on a sightseeing tour to see the Tiger Leaping Gorge. The driver drove us about an hour and a half away from our hotel and dropped us off at the entryway of the gorge. There were darkly tanned Chinese men with red colored man carts lined up all around the side of the paved pathway. Since it was about a 40 minute walk to the end, I decided to request a cart there and then walk back. Rocky bumps, dark hollow caves, and bridges made the ride ever so exciting! We kindly asked the cart driver to stop along different scenery points along the way and he was very patient with us and would even offer to help us take pictures along the way! The people here were simple yet grateful for what they have and I for one was inspired to be in their presence.
I came to find that in almost every historical sight, chinese people have a story to tell. Legend tells that in order to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point (still 25 metres (82 ft) wide), hence it’s name.
To be continued…