Braving unrepentant dirt roads, sneaking into remote villages, snapping portraits of different minorities. This seems to be what to expect when you visit Yunnan.
But, I went after another kind of discovery and headed to what is known as the Thousand Turtles red rock formation of Liming in the geological national park of Laojunshan, near Lijiang.
The truth is that Yunnan does a very good job at keeping such natural wonders hidden, difficult to reach and (as some might like) and unknown to the general public if you don’t dig a little deeper. So dig a bit deeper when you visit Yunnan.
Tip: figuring out the transport in China can be a bit tricky due to the language barrier. Book your train tickets online beforehand to make sure that you’re booking the right tickets and to make searching for different times and routes easier.
Visit Yunnan: The Red Rocks of Liming
The Park is just 3 hrs drive from Lijiang, a narrow snake-like road coasting the Yangtze River, but has a totally different scenario.
Red rocks shaped through eons of time now resembling picture-perfect turtle shells and sharp cliffs which seems to be the ultimate rock climbing haven for people like Mike Dobie. Mike and his team are temporarily stationed in Liming, they are creating what will be known as the most dangerous climbing trail in China.
I always admire people who do what they love to do and somehow manage to make a living with it. It is not a surprise that more about Liming can actually be found on climbers’ blogs and similar websites.
What awaits you at the top is an incredible view of stand-alone rock formations that will make you feel like you might just spot a hobbit up there… Early morning climbs might not give you the perfect blue sky for your pictures, but the mist over the mountains does not make it less special. I walked my way up practically alone, which was bliss, and during my descend a drizzle of rain and whirling winds kept me company.
As always, my curiosity to know more about the local people never leaves me and I managed to chat with my host, a Lisu man. “Lisu people like to drink and smoke” he tells me with a giggle, and most of all LOVE gossip. Quite an entry, I would say, but shortly after I witness that he was actually saying the truth as I see drunk old men wandering around the streets with no care of the world and quite a display of card-players happily seating outside their shops each of them with a glass full of some Maotai or a bottle of beer.
“And what about the gossip?” I ask with a smile. He says that he doesn’t mind other’s people business and leaves the chitchat to the old men. “But what’s that construction up there that looks like an unfinished hotel?” I ask again. “Oh, that one? It belongs to a man from Lijiang who works in Kunming and made a lot of money with his business, so decided to built the hotel by himself but didn’t really know what he was doing so now the building is half done. But I don’t gossip.”