Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Yúnnán Express

Last weekend was spent on Yúnnán Express, our own 4-day tour of the south-western situated province facing the border of Tibet. We spent our time in Kūnmíng, Dàlĭ and Lìjiāng. In this region, as in many others, places claim to be the mythical Shangri-La, the fictive place described in Lost Horizon by James Hilton. True or not, the area is beautiful as hell and close to a heaven on earth with a stunning scenery that words cannot describe. Instead, click on the image below or above to get a visual.

We arrived in Kūnmíng after a mere three hours flight and quickly decided that the city was not beautiful enough to waste our precious weekend time. So we hopped on a night bus to Lìjiāng, a trip that unexpectedly took almost excactly the promised ten hours. We only got delayed half an hour, sadly because of a traffic accident including a truck and a buffalo.

Lìjiāng was everything we had wished for and more. The city's Old Town is all Naxi architecture and really gives the impression of an ancient China. The only sad thing is that, after the city was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, it has become very touristy. So touristy that it has started to loose its charm. The environment though is amazing. The city lies in a valley, surrounded by mountains reaching 4-5000 meters, and closeby lies the Tiger Leaping Gorge, a 15 km long stretch of rapids between wild and barren 2000 meter cliffs.

From Lìjiāng we headed to Dàlĭ - this too is a heaven on earth - where we rented bikes, hiked on the mountainside on which the town is situated, chilled out, and amazed ourselves by the ridicoulusly high admission fees that were put on basically everything worth a look.

Our last stop was a few hours in Kūnmíng's Green Lake Park, a pretty endroit in the middle of the big city. In the mornings (when we were there) the park fills up by Qi Gong practicers, morning strollers, and musicians. Really worth a visit if you stop by in the otherwise not so interesting town.

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