Thursday, January 31, 2013

18 Reasons to Travel to Yunnan in China (Part 1)

"If you have time visit only one province in China, then it should be Yunnan," declares Lonely Planet in its travel guide to China published in 2011. That same year, racers from the eighteenth season of the widely popular around-the-world television series The Amazing Race passed through Yunnan in its first few episodes. In a few months, I would find my mouth gaping in amazement as I watched Michael Palin's BBC series Himalaya, an episode of which showed the landscapes, the people and their stories from Yunnan province. The scale was finally tipped when I got a copy of Palin's memoir of his Himalayan journey. With that, I was completely and utterly sold.

Still begs the question though. What exactly about Yunnan province drew me so powerfully towards it? Here, I provide the answers. In the tradition of the 18 Oddities of Yunnan province, sort of a campaign slogan to promote tourism in Yunnan, I give you the 18 reasons for which in the one month I was traveling through China I chose to travel ever so slowly and live it all in Yunnan. This is Part One of the list. Part Two is here. Here we go.

1. The Land below the Clouds

Green Lake Park, Kunming, Yunnan, China
"Winter? What winter?" say the two lovers. (Probably not)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Golden Horse, Jade Rooster, and the Hump

Golden Horse, Jade Rooster, and the Hump. Though it may sound like it, it is not a lesser known, sleazier sequel to the Ang Lee film "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon." Golden Horse, Jade Rooster, and the Hump are symbols associated with the capital of Yunnan province, Kunming.

"Education," my college English professor once said, "makes us appreciate what we see when we finally stand before Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece Mona Lisa." I would like to think that that is how it is with travel as well. And after having basked in Kunming's perpetually pleasant spring-like weather, I felt it was time to appreciate further one of China's most laid-back and less polluted of cities.

Golden Horse Jade Rooster Arch, Yunnan, China
Jade Rooster Arch. Plus points if you can spot the rooster.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why Travel Tuesday: Yuantong Temple

(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, Why Travel Tuesday features one of the most important Buddhist temples in all of Yunnan, China: Yuantong Temple.)

Yuantong Temple, Kunming, Yunnan, China
One of the most important Buddhist temples in all of Yunnan, Yuantong Temple

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kunming Spring and the Season Traveler

The concept of seasons can be quite foreign to someone who grew up in the tropics. The Philippine capital Manila, my hometown, technically has two seasons (wet and dry) and I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a place which at least has two. Can you imagine growing up in a city that's gloomy and rainy all year? I'm looking at you, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I love your food, but your weather not so much. The truth is, wet and dry does not describe how it really is on ground level. "Here we have three seasons," a traveler from Southern India once said of her city Madras in Tamil Nadu, "a warm summer, a wet summer, and a cool summer." She could have easily been talking about Manila.

In my travels, I occasionally tend to choose the destination based on its seasons. I wanted to experience all four. Winter was ticked off the list quite early when I decided to head to the Great Wall of China in a cold March day. Sure, it was the tail-end of winter. There was snow, however, and that's winter in my book. Autumn was a bit tricky because while there is autumn in Nepal, I had to climb up 3,000 meters above sea level in the Annapurna Region to fully experience the wistful colors of fall. That leaves spring. Enter Kunming, capital of Yunnan province in Southwest China.

Green Lake Park, Kunming, Yunnan, China
Beautiful cherry blossoms in Kunming, City of Eternal Spring

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Why I Travel: Year 2012 in Photos

It's the first day of 2013 and it seems right to start a new tradition of rounding up my favorite photos from the year that was. Besides, I have already written a rather passionate and, some would say, heartfelt year-end post, which coincidentally is also a birthday post: Why I Travel and Why I Traveled This 2012. I thought I deserved to have it easy on this one and present each month of the past year in photos, photos which categorically and oftentimes colorfully told me why I travel.

January: Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam