KUNMING, Yunnan Province, SW China


Yunnan ("Yun"=clouds, "nan"=south) Province is deep in southwestern China with the Himalayas to the northwest and Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar to the south. It is known for its rugged, beautiful terrain and its diverse ethnic minorities. Of the 56 ethnic minorities in China, at least 25 different minorities live in Yunnan. Important trade routes such as the Silk Road from the west (Italy, Persia, India, etc.) ran through Yunnan, bringing in diverse peoples who intermixed with the majority, creating new groups with their own traditions, languages, culture.

Kunming, called "The City of Eternal Spring," is the historic capital of Yunnan Province, with 6 million people. We loved Green Lake (Jade) Park where we were able to mingle with various minority peoples who were enjoying their afternoon dancing and playing instruments.

The Bird and Flower Market was a fascinating cultural happening and we loved wandering the streets here. One can buy everything from dogs, as in designer dogs, to turtles, birds, scorpions, cockroaches, flowers, and all types of housewares and crafts.

You will see photos above of the geologic marvel called the Stone Forest. Formed beneath the sea 270 million years ago, it is a cluster of dark gray-limestone karst formations. In the Stone Forest, we visited a traditional Sani Village where the corn was drying on the roofs and the women wore colorful, embroidered clothing. In fact, embroidery is a lovely cottage industry in this area, and everyone is quite happy to sell and buy a little.

What we didn’t have in the Sani Village were the deep-fried bee larvae, the deep-fried bamboo worms, grasshoppers, or bamboo mice. And we definitely didn’t have the Three Screams Mice, the ones you eat alive and which scream three times before you swallow them. I guess we’ll never know what we missed!




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