Yunnan Province, China’s Western Frontier
The Diversity of Yunnan
From the Tibetan pagodas atop snow covered Himalayan peaks in the north to the Thai temples in humid rainforests in the south, and the tea and rice terraces in between, Yunnan is the most geographically diverse province in China.
In several days we traveled from The lofty peaks of shangri-la, through the scrub-brush plains surrounding Dali, past the tea fields in the hills of pu’er, to the dense jungles of xiahuangbanna.
This diverse landscape offers many opportunities for adventure. In Shangri-la we hiked up the sorrow ding mountains to explore whichever temple looked most interesting from below. In the breathtaking tiger leaping gorge we trekked from guest house to guest house in the shadow of the jade dragon mountain, A majestic tower of rock shrouded in mist. And the south of Yunnan offers endless opportunities to hike the rainforests and encounter hidden tribal cultures.
The Ethnic mosaic of Yunnan
The ethnic landscape of Yunnan is even more diverse than its geography. An ethnic patchwork of people and culture, Yunnan is the perfect place to discover some of the most ancient and untouched cultures of the world.
Tibetan life has changed a lot in northern Yunnan since it was part of the kingdom of Tibet. Yet, a lot as remained as well. Tibetans are very proud of heritage wherever they live in the world. In Yunnan province the Tibetan community wears their traditional clothes and jewelry and still practice their unique and beautiful take on Buddhism. Tibetan temples is where real ancient Tibet is truly preserved, and the monks that take care of them will eagerly share their Tibetan worldview with you (one that is much different from Chinas)
Hmong culture is Famous for its beautiful and unique silver Hmong Tribal jewelry and handmade embroidered textiles. The Hmong really represent many different people which vary in culture and language, but share ancient traditions and ways of life.
Bei society in Dali and the surrounding countryside is what has made central Yunnan such a famous international tourist destination. Their architecture is amazing, beautiful roofs atop hand painted buildings. Their love of indigo borders obsession, and everywhere you look are hues of deep blue and purple. This is especially apparent on their hand dyed tapestries and quilts (the Bei are among the first tie-dyers) and the beautiful blue designs adoring buildings across Yunnan.
Naxi Society is famous for its matrimonial structure, where women are seen as superior to men and lead the society. Men traditionally stay with their mother who is the head of the household for most of their lives. Many villages are still polygamous as they all were one hundred years ago. Men sneak away from their home and into the home of their girl of choice, and the child is raised by the village.