China: Yunnan

Kunming: A Vow to Renew?


Yunnan Province


May 27, 2014

Dear Friends,

Every time I visit a public park in Asia, I make a vow … that I rarely keep.

From Harbin to Hong Kong, from Beijing to Bangkok, from Shanghai to Seremban, the parks are heaving with babysitters minding infant children, teenagers stealing an embrace, and adults of all ages slimming down!

Shilin: The Stone Forest


Yunnan Province


May 28, 2014

Dear Friends and lovers of poetry,

“Something there is that truly loves a stair.”    

With apologies to Robert Frost, I adhere to my “stair” formula wherever I travel.   See a stair? Climb!  Explore.  Discover.  “Good stairs make good adventures.” *

Except today, I got in trouble.

About 120k Southeast of Kunming, in the Shilin area, the picturesque and level grounds of the Stone Forest invite tourists young and old to admire the unique, bizarre and photogenic karst  geology formations.

Dali: The Old Town

                              Dali – “Can I Go Home Now?” 


Yunnan Province


May 30, 2014

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Traveling in China can be so frustrating!   I think I’ll go home.

After a four and a half hour bus ride from Kunming to Dali New Town, and after a taxi driver refused to take me to my hotel near the Old City,  and  after a thirty minute bone-shaking, jaw-jarring, teeth-shattering ride in the Chinese answer to the Thai Tuk Tuk,

and after waiting more than half an hour for someone from the hotel to pick me up because the Tuk Tuk driver dropped me off at the wrong gate of the city, and after taking a taxi from the South Gate of the Old City to the West Gate,

and  after checking in at the Jade Emu Guest House that looked like a good hotel on the Internet but was just a notch above a youth hostel, and after all of the above being transacted with a variety of people with whom Icannot communicate,

I ask you, “Can I go home now?” 

Dali: Goddess of Mercy Temple and Erhai Lake


Yunnan Province


Elevation 2007m – 6585 ft

Population 652,000

June 1, 2013

Dear Friends,

Dali is attacked - The enemy is at the gates!  Will Dali survive?

At the entrance to the Goddess of Mercy Temple just south of Dali Old Town, a stone-carved mural depicts the potential battle.  

Ilian provides the details of the legend.

Ilian is a big man.  A very big man.  Illian’s grandfather was a tailor, a farmer and a wrestler.  Apparently, Illian inherited his grandfather’s skills, his traditional values and his physique.

Lijiang: The Old Town and Market


Yunnan Province

People’s Republic of China

Elevation 2400m 7900 ft.

June 2, 2014

Dear Friends and Fellow Travelers,

I can never resist a market.  Can you?  Always lively, colorful and surprising, the market is a core element of daily life.  What is more essential than food, clothing and household goods?   And what is more fun? 

So after our early morning stroll through the Old Town of Lijiang that included an invitation to a tea ceremony, my guide Illian and I head over to the main market.  I took about “a thousand” photos, and finally stocked up on a half kilo of fresh, sweet green plums for the ride ahead.

Lijiang Prefecture: Monks in the Trees

Monks in the Trees

On the Road in Lijiang Prefecture

Yunnan Province


June 2, 2014

Dear Friends,

Significant portions of western Yunnan were once part of Tibet.  Consequently, Tibet monasteries or Lamaseries are scattered around the province.

On the road from Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge, we made a detour deep into the hills to visit the active Yufeng Lamasery.

One expects to find monks or lamas at work or at study.  And like elsewhere in the Buddhist world, young novice monks are also at study or at play.  Here we found the cheerful and energetic young boys exercising and climbing in the trees.