Land South of the Clouds: Yunnan

I left Shanghai in a bit of a rush a few days ago, without really saying where I was off to or where I have been for the last few days, thanks to a combination of disorganization and remoteness of my current location. I flew to Yunnan province, previously known to me as the only place in China where coffee is grown (my ears always prick up when I hear coffee mentioned), and also where they eat deep-fried honeybees, and little else. Yunnan is a mysterious place, nestled between Tibet and Burma, and peopled by those who do not consider themselves Chinese - the Bai, the Naxi, and others.

Yunnan is a place of unbelievable natural beauty and air so thin it makes my heart pound every time I stand up. Walking up stairs makes me almost pass out with breathlessness. Yunnan means 'south of the clouds' and from the photograph I took yesterday of the majestically named and supernaturally impressive Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yu Long Xue Shan) you can see why. For the last four days I have been so overawed with the non-stop magnificence of the landscape here it will take me a while to come back down to earth, literally.

The next three weeks will see me all over Yunnan, starting with a three day trek along Tiger Leaping Gorge (first post on that tomorrow), and then into neighbouring Guizhou province for the fabled Miao Sisters Festival, an annual courtship festival and display of fantastical ornamentation very few foreigners have ever had the chance to see. 

I'll be visiting Lijiang, Dali, Shigu, and the weekly village market in Shaping over the first seven days, so if you want to see a different China, come along for the journey!