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[Photos] Dynamic Yunnan
Latest Updated by 2006-05-15 10:45:58
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IF Chinese artists are indicators of where to go for beauty and inspiration, Yunnan Province is high on the list. Film director Zhang Yimou chose Yunnan for his folk musical "Impression Lijiang" and dancer Yang Liping was inspired to choreograph "Dynamic Yunnan." Chen Kaige shot "The Promise" in Yunnan, which brought his crew recent unwelcome publicity for trashing some of the natural beauty that originally attracted Chen.

The trash has been removed and the marvelous and mysterious Yunnan remains a magnet for both artists and travelers. Small wonder that scenic spots in the province, Meili Snow Mountain and, Stone Forest, made it to the "Top 50 Chinese Destinations for Foreigners".

Meili Snow Mountain

Also called "Prince Snow Mountain," Meili Snow Mountain is located about 10 kilometers west of Deqin County, at the confluence of the Jinsha, Lancang and Nujiang rivers. As the sun rises, the snow mountain looks splendid, towering like a pyramid draped in gold.

Meili Snow Mountain has long been famous for its main peak, Kawa Karpo, which, at an elevation of 6,470 meters, is the tallest in Yunnan.

On the southern side of the main peak, a waterfall - known among the local people as "a deluge of rain and God-mandated cascade" - tumbles down from a breathtaking height of 1,000 meters. Under Kawa Karpo Peak, low-altitude glaciers can be found, of particular interest to geologists. Mingyuchia Glacier and Sichia Glacier stretch down to the forest at an elevation of 2,700 meters, only 800 meters from the surface of Lancang River.

Meili Snow Mountain is considered a holy mountain by Tibetans. It is constantly shrouded in mist and clouds. Each autumn, countless Tibetans make pilgrimages to the peak.

The Meili area includes seven climatic zones, creating a diversity of plant and fungi species. In addition to many endangered plant varieties, the Meili area is home to more than 75 percent of the Tibetan medicinal herbs.

Extraordinarily rich in biological diversity, Meili Snow Mountain provides habitat for a wide variety of endangered wildlife, including snow leopards, clouded leopards, Asiatic black bears and red pandas.

The best times for touring Meili Snow Mountain is January into May. The rest of the year, the snow peaks remain hidden by clouds.

Located in Mengyang Nature Reserve in Xishuangbanna, the Wild Elephant Ravine has some 130 elephants. Located in a tropical rainforest, the elephants can be seen drinking from the river, bathing and spraying water on each other.

The national nature reserve originally began attracting wild elephants to the ravine by throwing salt on the riverbanks in the late 1980s. The Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve Bureau then set up an observation station for wild elephants in 1991.

Covering an area of 369 hectares with a water area of 8,000 square meters, the forest park has a number of scenic spots for viewing the elephants, exploring the forest, the butterfly field and orchid garden. The first school in China for training elephants is also located in the park, and the school's graduates can be seen in performance.

The park offers "tree hotels" built on tree trunks. Tourists can stay in the tree dwellings, breathe in the fresh air, view the tropical rainforest, and listen to the birds and streams while awaiting the arrival of a herd of wild elephants. (SD-Agencies)

Stone Forest

As an old local saying goes: "If you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time."

Also called Shilin, the Stone Forest is located in Shilin Yi Autonomous County, about 120 kilometers from the Yunnan capital, Kunming.

Walking through the Stone Forest, visitors marvel at the intricate formations of the natural stone masterpieces covering 400 square kilometers. The strange, steep landscape creates countless labyrinthine vistas.

Geologists say the Stone Forest is a typical example of karstic topography. Some 270 million years ago, during the carboniferous period of the Paleozoic era, the region was a vast expanse of sea. Over time, the movements of the Earth's crust and upper mantle gradually caused a retreat of the waters and the rise of the limestone landscape. With constant erosion by the elements, the area developed into the present-day Stone Forest.

Many legends originate in this magical place, passed down by the native people known as Sani, a branch of the Yi ethnic group. One particular story about the faithful love of Ashima, a beautiful, intelligent and warm-hearted Sani girl, has been told for thousands of years.

The Sani people celebrate the Torch Festival on June 24 on the Chinese lunar calendar, which this year falls on July 19 on the solar calendar. of Lunar Calendar. Traditional performances include wrestling, bull fighting, pole-climbing and lion dancing. During this time, the Stone Forest comes alive with a particularly joyful atmosphere.

Editor: Wing

By: Source: Szdaily web edition
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