Thursday, December 17, 2009

Travel Diary: Yunnan Company Trip

Last month we took a company trip to the Yunnan Province in China, visiting Kunming, Dali and Lijiang. Located in the southwest region of China, the Yunnan Province borders Laos, Vietnam and Burma. Yunnan ("South of the Clouds") is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history and cultural diversity. With 25 different ethnic minorities, it is actually one of the most culturally diverse provinces in all of China.

After a week of exploring this fascinating region, I can now say I've tasted yak meat, been to the top of a 15,000 ft. snow mountain, and visited one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

Here we are in Lijiang before we headed to Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain. That's me in the huge yellow scarf.

The cable car on the way up was a quick ride, offering views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Knowing you are thousands of feet above solid ground makes your heart beat faster.

Once we arrived at the top, our handheld oxygen tanks came in handy. The vistas from atop the mountain were breathtaking and it was easy to see why it is called Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

We climbed a few flights of stairs to get a better view. Here you can see the layers of mountains covered in a thin layer of clouds, a scene used in many traditional Chinese paintings.

Our view from the amazing show "Impression Lijiang," directed by Zhang Yimou, who also directed the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony and House of Flying Daggers. Impression Lijiang is performed in an outdoor theater with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as its dramatic backdrop with a cast of 500 performers from 10 local ethnic groups and a number of horses. The choreography and music demonstrate the traditions of the local cultures and were truly moving. It was definitely one of the highlights of my visit to Lijiang.

Local Naxi people of Lijiang have their own standard of beauty. Women are affectionately called "pang jin mei" (fat gold sister) and it's customary for women to do most of the work while men relax.

Roasted dragonflies. I worked up the nerve to try one and it tasted ... not bad, very crunchy.

Our guide in Kunming

Reflections of the rock formations in the water in the Jiuxiang Caves, the largest cave group in the Yunnan Province.


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