Delightful Family Time with Winter Sunshine in Dreamland Yunnan

-- David's 8 Days Family Winter Trip to Picturesque Yunnan with Colorful Nature and Ethnic Culture Encounter

Yunnan Trip 5-12 January 2019

Day 1:

Flight to Kunming was fine. We were glad to arrive somewhere so warm after several very cold days in Beijing. Our guide Jessie was very knowledgeable, and gave us several recommendations of things to do. After she left us we enjoyed a walk through the city and discovered the bird and flower market, the Muslim quarter and the different varieties of flower cakes on sale. We ate dinner outside in the lovely setting of a historic courtyard house, and tried some of the local dishes such as steam pot chicken, and pork served on a curved tile.

Kunming Bird and Flower Market, Flower Cake, and Steam Pot Chicken, Tour Customized by Wendy

Kunming Bird and Flower Market, Flower Cake, and Steam Pot Chicken

Day 2:

Our visit to the Stone Forest was truly memorable - what an amazing place. It was a warm day, and the sun was very strong – I wished I’d packed a hat to protect my fair skin! We enjoyed seeing the Sani people in their bright costumes and listening to their music. The limestone pillars were spectacular, and around every corner there was another amazing sight. We enjoyed a very good lunch – Jessie later told us that the chef had gone home, and had come back specially to cook for us following our delayed arrival due to problems on the road between Kunming and the Stone Forest. After lunch we returned to Kunming and visited Green Lake Park. The park was full of people singing and dancing, many in traditional costume, and was a delightful spectacle.

David with His Wife and Son in Stone Forest, Photo Shared by David, Tour Customized by Wendy

David, His Wife & Son Enjoyed the Trip to Kunming Stone Forest in January, 2019

The Jinjiang Hotel was very comfortable and breakfast was good, with amazing views over the city from the dining room!

Jinjiang Hotel in Kunming, Tour Customized by Wendy

Jinjiang Hotel (the one on the right) in Kunming

Day 3:

We loved the train ride to Dali and were glad we hadn’t taken the plane. Compared with British trains, the train was incredibly spacious, with plenty of leg-room and space for luggage.

It was warm again in Dali, but luckily there were people selling hats near Erhai Lake, so I was able to protect myself from the sun. It was lovely to be out on the water on a warm and sunny day, and we enjoyed the walk round the island and the visit to the Pagodas and the monastery. Alice was an excellent guide, and we had another very good lunch! The Old Town was delightful, and surprisingly lively in the evening. We found a lovely restaurant tucked away down a side street, and had the best value evening meal of our whole trip here.

Lovely Erhai on A Warm and Sunny Day, Photo Shared by David, Tour Customized by Wendy

David & His Family Visiting Erhai Lake on A Warm and Sunny Day

Enjoyed Our Time around Chongsheng Temple and Three Pagodas, Photo Shared by David, Tour Customized by Wendy

Enjoyed Our Time around Chongsheng Temple and Three Pagodas

The E outfitting Boutique hotel proved to be an excellent contrast to the large city hotel in Kunming, and we particularly enjoyed breakfast next morning, which was cooked specially for us. The bedrooms were cold, so for some people it may not be the best choice as a winter hotel! However, we were really glad to have had the experience of staying here.

E Outfitting Boutique Hotel in Dali, Tour Customized by Wendy

E Outfitting Boutique Hotel in Dali

Day 4:

The morning market in Xizhou Ancient Town offered a great opportunity to see life in the local community. We said goodbye to Alice and travelled to Lijiang where we were greeted by Sophie and taken to the Palace Hotel. I think we were upgraded to bigger rooms, and we certainly enjoyed the spacious surroundings! We explored the Mufu Palace with Sophie, and then had some time on our own. Nicky and I went to hear the live performance of Naxi music in the old town centre, which was very enjoyable, and we didn’t get lost on the way back to the hotel in the dark!

Xizhou Ancient Town in Dali, Tour Customized by Wendy

Xizhou Ancient Town in Dali

Mufu Palace in Lijiang, Tour Customized by Wendy

Mufu Palace in Lijiang

Day 5:

We enjoyed exploring Yuhu village and the former residence of Joseph Rock, and found Shuhe Ancient Town delightful – and it had an excellent patisserie! It was interesting reading about the Dongba culture and the Naxi people. Black Dragon Pool Park was a perfect place to end our exploring for the day.

David and His Wife Took a Picture with the Guide at Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang, Photo Shared by David, Tour Customized by Wendy

David and His Wife Took a Picture with the Guide at Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang

Day 6:

We will always remember this particular day, not just for the chance to see China’s deepest gorge, but also for the amazing drive from Tiger Leaping Gorge to Shangri-La. Tenzin, our new guide had been delayed by the poor driving conditions on the way to meet us, so we explored the gorge on our own, and then met him nearby. We left the sunshine behind, and before long we encountered low cloud and snowy conditions, and some beautiful snowy mountain scenery. We stopped for a few pictures, and there was 6 inches of snow on the ground! The sun returned, and our driver delivered us safely to Shangri-La and the Hilton Garden Inn.

Happy to Meet Our New Guide in Shangri-La, Photo Shared by David, Tour Customized by Wendy

Happy to Meet Our New Guide in Shangri-La

Day 7:

The rooms at the Hilton were fine, but the Western breakfast was very poor. There was no fruit on the first morning, and the butter was rancid – ie stale. We are used to the quality of the Hilton brand in the UK, so this was disappointing. It was fascinating to see the Songzanlin Monastery, and the houses of the monks close by. We really enjoyed visiting a local family to sample a typical Tibetan lunch, and were made to feel very welcome with generous helpings of food. Luckily, we didn’t suffer any altitude sickness, although climbing a lot of steps seemed more of a challenge at an altitude of 3260 metres. The views from Napahai Lake were also stunning, and Nicky was delighted to see black-tailed cranes there.

Back at the hotel we ordered room service, and although some items listed on the menu weren’t available, this was understandable due to the remote location and the food that did arrive was nice. The room service staff were also helpful and friendly.

Sumtseling Monastery in Typical Tibetan Style in Shangri-La, Photo Shared by David, Tour Customized by Wendy

Sumtseling Monastery in Typical Tibetan Style in Shangri-La

Day 8:

We enjoyed local coffee in Dukezong old town after visiting the Naxi pottery village in the morning, and we chose to have a simple lunch of dumplings in a small café, rather than a tourist restaurant experience. We even got to turn the large Prayer Wheel with the help of other visitors! Then it was off to the airport. Contrary to your instructions, we did have to change flight in Chongqing, and there was a delay due to air pollution in Beijing, but we were back there before 1.00 am. Although our guide was worried about finishing the day’s activities early on days 7 and 8, We actually appreciated the shorter days as up until then it had been a busy week, and this may have also helped us not find the high altitude an issue.

The Large Prayer Wheel at Guishan Hill in Shangri-La, Photo Shared by David, Tour Customized by Wendy

The Large Prayer Wheel at Guishan Hill in Shangri-La

General comments: We had a great time on our Yunnan trip, and, aside from a few minor issues, the accommodation was very good – the Palace Hotel in Lijiang was probably our favourite. All the guides were excellent, and took great care to ensure we enjoyed our lunches. Alice was particularly good at discovering our interests, and ensured we had a chance to taste the local tea, and visit an embroidery workshop. The price for the trip was a fair one, and we would have no hesitation in booking with China Discovery again. Before this trip, I had had very little experience of small towns and villages in China, as I had only visited large cities such as Beijing and Hangzhou. It was therefore fantastic to see a completely different side of China, and I feel that without China Discovery and our knowledgeable local tour guides this would not have been possible.

Nicky’s comment:

We feel amazingly privileged to have been able to spend these few days in Yunnan Province. The natural heritage of the region is stunning and includes both the wildlife and the landscape.

Memories that will stay with me for a very long time include seeing the Black Tailed Cranes at Napahai Lake, the water birds on Erhai Lake with their young and the hoopoes by the Pagodas near Dali. Everywhere we looked were the mountains, snow-topped and each with their own personality. From the First Bend in the Yangzi River to Tiger Leaping Gorge and the incredible drive through the snow to Shangri-La the landscape was stunning.

Black Tailed Cranes at Napahai Lake in Shangri-La, Tour Customized by Wendy

Black Tailed Cranes at Napahai Lake in Shangri-La

The cultural heritage of the region too is extremely special. We’d done some reading before we travelled, but reading about it or even seeing it on a computer screen in no way prepared us for the rich diversity of the different ethnic groups of the region, for the wonderful architecture of the old towns, for the music and the welcome. We will always remember our journey along the Tea Horse Route and feel so lucky to have made it. Travelling in the winter season, whilst sometimes a little cold, meant the region was quieter, something we very much appreciated and enjoyed.

Our guides added hugely to the value we gained from the trip. The insight each gave us into local culture, the restaurants and food they chose so carefully for us and the way they adapted the timings around us made our journey that much more enjoyable. Having discovered my interest in stitching and embroidery, Alice made sure to fit in a visit to the embroidery centre in Xihou. I was tempted to sign up for an apprenticeship in silk embroidery there and then, but instead left with a deeper understanding of the many things people across the world share in common – and the inspiration to pick up needle and silks again.

Hi, I'm Wendy, David's travel consultant. David spent 8 delightful days in Yunnan with his family and saw a completely different side of China. Are you interested in his trip? You can feel free to contact me for more details of his travel such as trip itinerary, transportation, accommodation and other arrangements. If you want to travel the same way as them or you want to customize your own China tour, just contact me and I will spare no efforts to meet your demands. It’s my great pleasure to invite you to our country and join us in this beautiful land.

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