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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Trip to Yunnan

I recently spent a week in Yunnan. The first place I visited was Kunming, which is known as the "Spring City" because of its year-round warm weather. Kunming is a modern city, with a friendly and relaxed feel to it.

My hotel in Kunming was next to a lake (the Green Lake) where the locals like to hang out on the weekends. Around the edge of the lake were cafes and bars, and various hawkers selling food and other things. It is a great place to wander around.

From Kunming, I took the train to Dali. The train trip usually takes about 7 hours. Dali is an old town surrounded by city walls. Inside, many of the traditional buildings have been converted to shops, guest houses and cafes. At night, the town is lit up with lights, giving it a festive atmosphere. The major ethnic group of the Dali region are the Baizu people, who have their own language, traditional dress and dance. They are very friendly people.

From Dali, I headed off to Lijiang (about 3 hours away by bus). Like Dali, Lijiang retains its traditional buildings. The old town is, however, much bigger than Dali and is a maze of winding streets and canals. It is very pretty.

The major ethnic group of the Lijiang area are the Naxi people. Like the Baizu people, the Naxi have their own traditional language, dress and dance, and are very friendly. In the main town square, the old people gather each day and perform dances for the tourists. At night, the town lights up with red lanterns and many of the restaurants and bars have performers singing Naxi songs and dancing Naxi dances.

There are a variety of short trips that can be done from Lijiang. These include visits to Baisha and Shuhe (both old Naxi villages), Yulong Xueshan (a nearby mountain) and Tiger Leaping Gorge. From Lijiang, it is a short 40 minute flight back to Kunming.

If you are ever contemplating a trip to Yunnan province, I would seriously recommend you go!