Welcome back to this week’s issue of “Bajan,” Chinese Style, Travel Exposé. In this weeks exposé we jump right into the heat of things by taking our trip our trip plans to one of China’s most exotic Provinces, Yunnan Province.
If you have never been to China before, or are planning to visit China, then I greatly recommend planning your trip so as it includes some time spent exploring this not only culturally unique, but also biologically and geographically diverse province.
Yunnan province is the place to visit especially if you are interested in wildlife photography, backpacking, exotic food travel or simply searching for that authentic trekking experience.
Geography & Regions: Yunnan province is located in South Western China, and thus in some area shares topographical similarities with Guizhou Province (Refer to Travel Exposé: Mysterious Guizhou). Karst Mountains, mighty rivers, deep gorges and extensive cave systems can be found in Yunnan province and as we will come to realise, these areas all contribute to the magnificent natural diversity for which the province is famed. As we can assume, Yunnan is also an extremely large province and hence can be separated into four (4) distinct regions: These are, Central Yunnan, Northwest Yunnan, Nujiang Valley and Xishuangbanna Region (Southern Yunnan). These four regions all boast unique geographical and topographical characteristics which only lend to the impressive natural tapestry of the Province.
Northwest Yunnan: Characterised by an extensive system of Mountains and Highland Plateaus, Northwest Yunnan is one of the few entrances into Tibet and thus,shares great visual similarities with the “Roof of the World.” Home to some of the most iconic UNESCO
world heritage towns ( Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La) Snowy Mountains( Yu Long Snowy Mountain, Mei Li Snowy Mountain), Lakes ( Lu Gu Lake, Er Hai) and glaciers, Northwest Yunnan is truly an unrivalled nugget of the awesomeness that is nature. Northern Yunnan is also characterised by its Red Clay soil.
Central Yunnan: Central Yunnan, depending on the focus of your trip, is usually the transport hub for the province as the provincial capital, Kunming, is located there. Kunming is renown throughout China is being the, “Spring City” as the city enjoys an approximate annual high of 28-29 degrees celsius and an annual low of 7-10 degrees celsius. This creates a very mild climate which regardless of whether it is the height of summer or the dead of winter, the city is always relatively ideal for living and of course, travelling. Central Yunnan consists of Kunming and the areas in its immediate environs which include Dianchi and Jianshui Town.
Nujiang Valley: The Nujiang valley and surrounding environs are amongst some of the most biologically diverse and exotic areas in all of China. The River valley takes its name from the Nu River which rages along the length of the 320 Km gorge and eventually terminates in Myanmar. Along the length of this Gorge, over a quarter or all China’s species of flora and fauna can be found as well as half the total amount of endangered species. It’s a mecca of bio-diversity and every wildlife photographers daydream.
Xishuangbanna (Southern Yunnan): The length of Yunnan Province extends from the Tibetan plateaus and highland territories of the Northwest directly towards Myanmar, Cambodia,Laos and Vietnam in the Southeast. Thus, as we can assume, the geography of Xishuangbanna (Southern Yunnan) leans itself towards steaming subtropical jungles and a year round humid tropical climate.
The famed Asian Elephant can also be spotted roaming the jungles of Xi Shuang Ban Na. Also, especially worthy of note is that China’s most celebrated Rice field, the Yuan Yang Rice Terraces of the Hani People is found here.
Ethic Map: To top it all up, Yunnan is not only one of the most biologically rich regions of China, but it is also undoubtedly China’s most ethnically variegated area. Of the 54 ethnic minorities which can be found within China, over 35 of them reside in Yunnan Province, including the Yi, Naxi, She, Shui, Hani and Tibetan peoples. This prevalence of differing cultures goes great lengths to create the unique area culture of the province, which often sees the harmonious cooperation and the exchange of ideas between various ethnic groups, all the while preserving the core aspects and character of every said ethnic groups.
Even though it may sound like a challenging balancing act, one trip to Yunnan Province would convince you that it is less of a precarious state of affairs and more of a noble victory of humanity, and should be celebrated.