The Great Road Trip of China: Yunnan
By the time we set out on The Great Road Trip of China, we'd managed to negotiate a lot of trip planning in Chinese. We were prepared for camping outside or in the car in all but freezing conditions, any road or natural disaster we could think of, and we had enough food to last us a month. Yet our understanding of the wilds of Western China consisted mostly of the dusty, construction-gutted streets of Kunming. Sure, we'd read lots of maps and books and stuff, but they were largely absent of the details that would become important to us - the feel of a place, the quality of the roads, the extent of the spread of tourism, lunch nooks with some shade cover and especially friendly faces. A wise traveler in Kunming warned us, if we didn't watch our time in Yunnan closely, we'd wind up one day gazing at the calendar and wondering how a month had passed by.
While we weren't exactly caught off guard a month later as we were crossing the Yunnan border into Sichuan, it's hard to comprehend how all this diversity can be found in a single province in Southwestern China. This first batch of photos comprises the first two weeks of the trip - when we were still newbs to traveling in China.
Driving through Southern and Eastern Yunnan we followed small (yet well-paved!) roads through a continuous expanse of undulating mountains, meticulously sculpted by hand into rows of rice, banana, corn and sugarcane. The terraces felt a part of the mountains as much as the rocks and the trees. Sometimes we'd travel over large stretches of road without a single shoulder or dividing line to separate us from those clean rows of vibrant green plants. You'd think after all our time in southern India we'd have grown tired of rice fields. We try, for our part, not to idealize this bucolic lifestyle. The farmers of Yunnan are some of the hardest working people we've ever seen.
We hope you enjoy these first glimspes of our trip. Stay tuned...