I leave for Yunnan province in South West China next week. This will be another journey connected to my Dad’s time in China. At the end of his posting to Chongqing, in January 1944, he and a friend flew to Kunming and then drove up the Burma Road to Dali (see Kunming page). He tried to climb a mountain (Cangshan, over 4000m) near Dali but was unable to summit due to deep snow. Obviously, there’s a cable car now so I will be able to go up whatever the weather.
Yunnan lies at the eastern end of the Himalayan uplift and has borders with Vietnam and Laos to the South, Burma to the West and Tibet and Sichuan to the North. The tropic of Cancer crosses the middle of the province. Yunnan has the highest biodiversity in China and about a third of the population comprises ethnic minorities.
I am flying to Kunming, then heading south to see the tropical rice terraces and to meet some of the minority peoples. I return to Kunming and then take the train to Dali, following the path of the Burma Road. From Dali I continue northwards, visiting Tiger Leaping Gorge and the first bend of the Yangtse river, before reaching Shangri-La near the Tibetan border. It should be a really beautiful journey!
I have prepared all my gadgets and I hope I will be able to post lots of photos and words as I go along. Packing is going to be a challenge – tropical to arctic gear needed – but I feel much better prepared this time. My dear friends at My Odyssey Tours are once again providing guides. I have continued to study Mandarin and I hope to have slightly more interesting conversations this time. Six hours on a train should provide some opportunities for practise!