This is Yunnan.
I spent ten days traveling through two cities and three villages with two amazing people.
We began our trek in Zhengzhou, took an over night train to Xi'an, paid our respects to the warriors, flew to Lijiang, bused to The Tiger Leaping Gorge, over night to Shangri-la (no bed, just a hard, hard seat), over night bused to Dali (think smelly feet and unwashed bed linen), over night train to Kunming and then an early morning flight back to Shanghai.
Everything I saw blew my mind. The mountains and gardens looked like nothing I had ever seen. The colours were richer, deeper and more vibrant. Each cloud had a distinct lining, they wrapped around each other, every shade of blue holding the other.
At a peak 3000m above sea level, the air, although cleaner (much cleaner!), took it’s toll and my lungs struggled on long hikes. But it was all worth it when I could look down below at white washed water streaming it’s way down the gorge.
In the smaller villages, the locals would come together every evening and take part in a traditional Tibetan dance. As we feasted on cheese and yak momos, the Chinese-Disco tunes leaked into the second floor restaurant. Sipping butter sweet tea and taking in the calm gave me time to escape the stress of the city.
Yunnan is a beautiful place that I find hard to describe. It took me away, rugged me up and released me, refreshed and ready to leave my adventure behind.