Journal of My 2013 China Expedition Part II (Yunnan)

April 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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Journal of My 2013 China Expedition Part II (Yunnan)
(15.8.2013 – 17.8.2013)

Yunnan Journey(Day 7 – 10)
Day 7 (21.8.2013 Thursday)
Jinghong – Lincang
(Distance: 418 km)

Our China Expedition team had already travelled 6 days, safely, from Malaysia via Thailand and Laos to the present city, Jinghong, in Yunnan, China, and we still had a long journey ahead of us.

Yunnan Cities

Today, at 8.10 in the morning, we left Jinghong for a long journey to Lincang. The road was winding and passing through several tunnels in the mountainous areas. Occassionally, landslides blocked parts of the roads. As we were travelling we came across plantations of pu’er tea and some farms of dragon fruits, corns, lotus plants and tobacco.


Pu’er tea plantations in Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan


Corn farms in Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan

At 12.45 p.m. we arrived at a town, Jingku, where we had lunch and bought some pu’er tea(a popular fermented tea). An hour later, we moved on again.

A simple lunch in Jingku Town in Yunnan


Buying pu’er tea in a Jingku shop in Yunnan


At 4 p.m. we stopped for awhile on a high ground to see a picturesque view of a yellow river, Lanchang River or Upper Mekong River, and its surroundings. Half an hour later, we were off again.


Looking at River Lanchang or Upper Mekong River in Yunnan


River Lanchang or Upper Mekong River in Yunnan


At 5.10 p.m. we reached Lincang City, thanks to the good tarred road. After checking in at a hotel, Lincang Airport Tourism Hotel, and having our dinner, we walked to the Lincang old town nearby to have a look, as the day was still bright.


Lincang Airport Tourism Hotel, Lincang, Hotel


A busy street in Lincang Old Town

That old town had many streets and shops. There were many activities going on in the evening, especially along the streets where peldlars were selling their goods, such as clothes, fruits, snacks, footwear and kitchenware, to name a few, and the local people were looking for good bargains.


A couple of the expedition team buying fruits in Lincang, Yunnan


Lincang new town


Later, we returned to the hotel and retired in our comfortable beds.


Day 8 (22.8.2013 Friday) Lincang – Dali – Ljiang
(Distance: 468 km)


At 8 a.m. we had a 10 minute-exercise in the hotel compound to stay healthy all the time, as our expedition was long and arduous. After all the owners of the China Expedition had checked their cars, we left Lincang for another long journey to Lijiang.


Morning exercise in Lincang


A member checking his car before travelling to Lijiang


After two hours of travelling, we crossed a long, high suspension-bridge, Lanchang Bridge, that is over Lanchang River or Upper Mekong River. We stopped at the bridge to see the natural landscape of the place. Then we continued our journey. We were travelling on a long winding road that brings us to higher ground which was over 2000m.


China guides for China Expedition team standing at Lanchang Bridge, Yunnan


A long winding and ascending road to Dali from Lincang, Yunnan


Soon we reached a city, Dali. It has an ancient town near a lake, Erhai Lake. This ancient town is known as Dali Ancient City, and was built in 764 A.D.. It was a political, economic and cultural centre for a few dynasties in its heyday.


China Expedition team entering Dali City, Yunnan


North Gate, Dali Ancient City


In 1998, with the help of local traders and authority, the ancient town was restored to its past glory. Surrounded by a rectangular wall with two gates, North Gate and South Gate, the town attracts lots of tourists from near and far.


Main Street, Dali Ancient City, Yunnan


A tranquil lane in Dali Ancient City, Yunnan


We spent a short time at the ancient city, strolling, leisurely, along its main street, browsing at a few shops, visiting a museum and watching some visitors.

Pretty ‘Bai’ girls selling traditional biscuits in Dali Ancient City, Yunnan


A museum in Dali Ancient City, Yunnan


At 4.30 p.m. we left Dali City. On our way to Lijiang, we stopped at a high place to see a panoramic view of a wide valley below. Then we had a snack at a hawker-stall there. As we were eating a hardworking local man washed a few dirty expedition cars for a fee.


A panoramic view of a valley south of Lijiang City, Yunnan


Expedition cars being wahed by a local man for a fee


Then we were on the road again. At 7.50 p.m. we arrived at an ancient town of Lijiang, Lijiang Old Town, and checked in at Grand Lijiang Hotel nearby. After dinner, we walked to the old town nearby to watch people dancing in circles to the accompaniment of loud Chinese musics.


Grand Lijiang Hotel near Lijiang Old Town, Yunnan


Lijiang Old Town at night


Day 9 (23.8.2013, Saturday) Lijiang


Today, we were free to go anywhere we wanted. Most of us walked to Lijiang Old Town to see what it was like nearby. That was my second visit.


Some expedition members going to visit Lijiang Old Town


Entrance to Lijiang Old Town, Yunnan


This small ancient town is the remaining part of the ancient city. It is over 800 years old and was an important trading centre on the Ancient Horse-Tea Route where traders from India, Tibet and south-western China met and exchanged goods.


Quaint wooden buildings on a hill in Lijiang Old Town


Part of Lijiang Old Town, Yunnan


A river, Jade River, flows from the north to this town and then branches into three streams that run through it. In the beginning, houses were built along these streams. Later, houses were built close to each other in a haphazard manner along narrow streets.


Jade River, Lijiang Old Town


A narrow street in Lijiang Old Town, Yunnan


It is a beautiful ancient town of hundreds of quaint wooden buildings of Naxi ethnic minority’s architecture. In 1997, it was declared as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.


Market Square was a busy trading centre in the heyday


Writer posing with pretty girls of different ethnic minorities of China


I spent a few hours strolling in the town and kept my camera busy. It was quite a popular place, as there were many tourists visiting this well-preserved and clean ancient town.


Cute children in traditional clothes in Lijiang Old Town


Writer in blue with friendly Naxi Ladies in Lijiang Old Town


At 12 noon, I walked alone the old town to another place which is also a tourist attraction. Known as Heilongtan Park(Black Dragon Lake Park), it is not far from Lijiang Old Town. When I arrived at the park, I entered and saw a beautiful garden and some ancient buildings built during the Qing and Ming Dynasties.


Entrance to Heilongtan Lake Park, Lijiang


Longevity Pavilion at Heilongtan Lake Park, Lijiang


As I walked further in, I was totally shocked to see a lake without water. I visited that place two years ago and was fascinated by its beautiful scenery when the lake was full of clear water. The scenery in the photo below was what I saw then and the scenery in the photo below it was what I saw two years earlier. “What a great difference with and without water in the lake in Heilongtan Park in Lijiang!” I told myself.


Heilongtan Lake Park with lake without water on 23.8.2013, Lijiang


Heilongtan Lake Park on 8.6.2011, Lijiang, Yunnan


I walked back to Lijiang Old Town feeling disappointed about the scenery of the park. Before entering the old town, I was attracted by a hill, Lion Hill, which was beautifully covered with thick foliage and a garden where people gathered and pedlars were persuading passers-by to buy their goods.


Lion Hill covered with thick foliage near Lijiang Ancient Town


Lion Hill Garden where people gathered and pedlars were trying to sell their goods, Lijiang


When I walked over to the place, I smelt a familiar stinking fermented bean snack, “chou doufu”. I followed the odour and saw a man busy selling the stuff which was black. I watched him for a while. As the smell was too unpleasant for me, I did not crave for it. I walked away and went back to the ancient town to have a western fast food as my dinner for a change that evening.


“Stinking Tofu” or “Chou Doufu” hawker near Lijiang Ancient Town


Western fast food outlets in Lijiang Ancient Town


After that delicious meal, I stayed for awhile in the town watching visitors passing by and people dancing in circles.


Tourists enjoying horse-riding in Lijiang Old Town, Yunnan


Dancing in Lijiang Old Town Square, Yunnan


Day 10 (24.8.2013, Saturday) Lijiang – Deqin (Distance: 359km)


Today, we were going to leave for a place, Degin(3550m above sea-level), in the mountainous area of northern Yunnan. We would have to encounter colder climate, low atmospheric pressure and acute mountain sickness, as the area was over 3000m above sea-level. Besides, the roads were winding and certain parts of them were covered with landslides.


Winding roads in mountainous areas of northern Yunnan


A landslide making the road impassable in northern Yunnan


At 8 a.m. we started our journey from Lijiang and headed north. An hour later, we stopped at a high spot which was a vantage point for seeing a spectacular view of valleys, mountains, forests and a river, Jingsha River(Golden Sand River), the upper Mekong River.


Some expedition members at the vantage point overlooking a spectacular scenery


Yaks and sheep grazing on high grassland in northern Yunnan


After an hour or so of enjoying the sight of the natural landscape, we moved on again. As we travelled, we moved further north and to higher altitude, and the weather became colder. On the way, we saw Tibetan dwellings, and yaks and sheep grazing on high grasslands.


Visitors entering Dukezong Ancient Town, North Yunnan


Map showing streets of Dukezong Ancient Town, Yunnan


At 12.30 p.m. we reached an ancient Tibetan town, Dukezong Ancient Town. Located in Shangri-la County in Yunnan, it was over 1300 years old. It was once an important trading post on the Ancient Southern Silk Route or Tea-Horse Trade Route.


An ancient street in Dukezong Ancient Town, Yunnan


Tibetan shops in Dukezong Ancient Town, Yunnan


It had a few narrow streets lined with wooden shop-houses built in Tibetan architectural style. Tourists liked to visit this old town to see the old but beautiful quaint Tibetan buildings. Most of them were shops selling all kinds of Tibetan products ranging from accessories, clothing and leather shoes to silverware, gemstones, jewellery and swords. Besides, there were some restaurants which served Tibetan food.


Tibetan Buddhist white stupa in Dukezong Ancient Town, Yunnan


Expedition members resting in Dukezong Ancient Town, Yunnan


(A few months after our visit to this ancient town, a big fire destroyed two thirds of it.) Owing to time constraint, we spent an hour at the ancient town and left at 2.30 p.m.. The journey to Deqin was tough as the road had numerous sharp bends and some stretches were covered with landslides. Besides, it went up higher to a height of over 4000m above sea-level and then down to Deqin at the height of 3550m above sea-level. But the scenes in the mountainous areas were breathtaking.


A Tibetan village in a mountainous area in North Yunnan


Rising clouds in a mountainous area in North Yunnan


An hour after we left Deqin, we stopped at a popular vantage point from where we could see the first 180 degree-turning of the upper Yangtze River(Jinsha River).


The first 180 degree-bend of Upper Yangtze River in the background


An unfortunate incident happened on a roadside in the mountainous area in North Yunnan


After travelling the whole day, we finally reached Deqin at 7 p.m. and checked in at a hotel on a high ground facing an awesome sight of Meili Snow Mountains in the distance, and overlooking the city in the valley below. The hotel was known as Jing Tian Tang Hotel. Then we had dinner together at the hotel before we retired in our rooms.


A group photo taken at Jing Tian Tang Hotel with Meili Snow Mountains in the background


China guides having dinner together with the expedition team, Deqin


Meili Snow Mountains(Meili Xue Shan) located south-east of Deqin in north-western Yunnan have over 20 peaks and 6 of them are over 6000m ab0ve sea-level. The highest peak is Kawakarpo(6740m). The sight of the mountains with snow on their peaks and glaciers on their slopes is always spectacular. To the Tibetan Buddhists, the mountains are a sacred place to them.

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Journal of My 2013 China Expedition:

Part I      Thailand

Part II     Yunnan

Part III    Tibet

Part IV     Qinghai

Part V      Xinjiang

Part VI     Gansu

Part VII   Ningxia

Part VIII Inner Mongolia

Part IX    Beijing

Written by Choo Chaw, Kluang, Johor, Malaysia