Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Journey South of the Clouds

I've been told that if I was going to visit one place in China, before all others, it should be Yunnan (which means south of the clouds in Chinese). The province is home to almost three quarters of China's minority groups. From snow capped mountains to lush jungles, vast plains and large gorges, Yunnan has it all.

For 11 days, my former girlfriend, Layla, and I hiked, rode and flew across the province -- from Jinghong near the border with Myanmar and Laos, to the old cities of Lijiang and Dali and even the Tibertan region around Shangri-la, located near the lower reaches of the Himalayan Mountains.

Some places were a bit touristy, others just as wild and untouched by commercialization as they've been for hundreds of years, but everything was impressive. I can vouch for that based on the number of gifts I bought and photos I took (somewhere around 1,500).

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