(By Chen Zhiying)
A herd of 15 Asian elephants in China is on an unprecedented journey: over the past year, these elephants have wandered 300 miles from their home in Xishuangbanna, a nature reserve in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, north toward some unknown destination. But if you look closely to their routes, you will find that they are very good at choosing places to have fun. These places are all the treasure traveling places of Yunnan.
Xishuangbanna - Kingdom of animals and plants
The starting point of elephants’ travel is Xishuangbanna, which is located in southern Yunnan Province of China, on the borders of Laos and Myanmar. Compared with the distance to Beijing, the capital of China, Xishuangbanna is about a third closer to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. Therefore, unlike the typical China you may imagine, you will taste a strong flavor sense of Thailand besides the charm of China here. Golden Southeast Asian style temples, banana trees, elephant groups and Thai-flavored snacks are the evidence of Thai-influenced characteristics. Besides, known as the “forest ecological museum”, Xishuangbanna is, of course, a beautiful, mysterious and earthly paradise worthy to be added to every nature lovers’ bucket list. In Xishuangbanna, tropical forests, gardens, fruits and Dai (ethnic group) culture are the picks of best that you should never miss. The most visited attractions in Xishuangbanna include Manting Park, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Dai Nationality Garden, Peacock Garden, Wangtainshu Scenic Area, etc., among which the Wild Elephant Valley is the most fascinating one. The valley, with dense forest and rich variety of animals and birds, many of which are rarely seen in other places, is the only habitat for Asian elephants in China. Here, more than 300 elephants are in the park, and you may watch the elephants dance, walk on a single-plank bridge and play with balls using their trunks. A pedestrian lane runs more than 4,000 meters through the tropical forest, ensuring the visitors’ close contact with the nature.
Tips: Wild Elephant Valley is arranged in a circular shape. Visitors can enter the scenic area from either the south gate or the north gate. The whole valley is connected through sky plank trestles, pedestrian walkways and tropical rain forest sightseeing rope-ways. Thus tourists can take a 3-hour loop in the valley, with no need of backtracking.
Yuxi - An unexplored gem in China
The reason why many people get to know about Yuxi is that this is the hometown of Nie Er, the composer of China’s national anthem. What they don’t know is that the Fuxian Lake which hidden in Chengjiang County is really a fairyland. The lake is a famous fresh water lake in China. It covers an area of 211 square kilometers and as deep as 155 meters, making it the third deepest lake in China. Fuxian Lake is so crystal and clear that the ancients called it “a large area of shinning glass”. Fuxian Lake always shows people in deep blue, the color of both the water and the sky, making people hard to tell whether it is the sky or the water. The most fascinating thing about Fuxian Lake is that it is not like the sea, vast and wild, or the river, running forward tirelessly. It just lies there quietly, whisking away your fatigue and making you relaxed.
Apart from the beautiful scenery, this place is famous for a mysterious ancient underwater city. According to the legend, two fairies were banished to the earth and passed by this lake. They indulged in the beauty of the scenery and were reluctant to leave. Finally they turned into two sculptures with their hands on each other’s shoulders, which is the meaning of “fuxian” in Chinese.
Kunming - The city of eternal spring
Kunming has long been known as one of China’s most habitable cities. Known as the “Spring City” for its equable climate, it remains a very pleasant place to kick back for a few days. It is blessed with beautiful landscapes of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and mountain ranges. The city’s pleasant sub-tropical climate adds to its appeal as a holiday destination. For those who haven’t accustomed to the laidback attitude of the place, there are plenty of temples and national parks nearby to keep you busy during the day and a fair few craft breweries and cool bars to hold your attention at night. Of course, like other Chinese cities, the face of Kunming is constantly changing and most old buildings have been torn down to make way for shopping malls and towering new residential complexes. Traffic jams, unknown even a few years ago, are now a common issue. Yet the essentially easy-going nature of Kunming is still the same.
In addition to the natural scenery it is famous for, Kunming is also renowned for its various delicious dishes. Due to the multi-cultural nature of the province, the city brings together the most representative food of the various nationalities residing in Yunnan, so dining here is an experience not to be missed. The famous food includes Steaming-Pot Chicken, Across Bridge Rice Noodles, and Xuanwei Ham. The night market is the best place to find and enjoy the local snacks.
One must be jealous that the group of elephants is really good at picking places. All these famous sceneries of Yunnan are along their way. Why not go and follow their steps to start your own wonderful journey.
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