Sunday, September 4, 2011


Stretching for miles, the number one attraction in this area near Kunming is the unique topography called the Stone Forest. It was once  part of a huge ocean. The crust lifted and formed the Himalayas and left the fantastic shapes of the stone forest.

We travel through a three-mile long tunnel to get to the stone forest which replaced a twisty, tortuous road. (The Chinese do things in a big way. Probably unsafe at that length as well.) I would have preferred the twisty route because I enjoy those kind of roads. Our  driver first circles a huge section of the forest and our city guide  points out various configurations  that resemble hats, or a baby, or an elephant.

Almost every configuration has a cap or hat that gives them their unique form.

Our group enjoys walking around the huge stones. Like a maze, a person could get lost among them. Rock climbing would be wonderful but is not allowed. I can imagine the people of long ago enjoying just such a simple pleasure.

In this particular area of the forest, a visitors center has been built on a small lake. Since there is no parking, we take a shuttle ride to this beautiful spot. It is high season for Chinese tourists who love to come here.  They have weddings, and picnics, celebrate birthdays and enjoy the “park”.

And, in turn, we enjoy watching the colorfully dressed locals arrange themselves along this pretty lake to have their pictures taken.

The beautiful girls in their colorful clothing are irresistible.

They all carry a basket of yellow flowers. Certainly it has some significance, but we know not what.

Among the tourists I see this woman’s style of clothing and the woman with a typical Chinese sun hat and a man with a more modern cap.
The Yi people of this area were featured in a movie about a woman who was persecuted because she was against arranged marriage. The Yi people show their single status by the way they arrange their feathers. A girl shows interest in a man by touching her horn.  We didn’t see anyone wearing a feather or a horn.

This fellow was resting with what may have been a musical instrument or horn. Or, maybe a pipe?

Chinese women carry huge burdens and think nothing of it. This back pack was loaded as you can see, and there is a feather in her pack.

We chuckled at the Chinglesh of this warning sign.
Vicki informs us that Mau came from Yunnan Province, his grandfather was born here. Yunnan means south of the cloud. The land here is fertile and there are many farms in the area.  A great flood killed 1500 people. The land was allowed to revert to forest after that.

Loading back on the shuttle, I spot another interesting headdress on this gentleman.
Back on the bus, Vicki gives us a history of the minority people from this area.  The Suni Muslims are a branch of the Yi people.  The black Yis enslaved the white Yis because they admired the rare black tigers of Asia over the white tigers.  Great hunters and wrestlers, strong and muscular,  they walk in fire and have fire torch festivals unique to the area. Mau banished slavery among the Yis.
Other minorities are the Hui People. They are known for their roast duck. The nucleous of this minority came with Kubla Khan. They were called barbarians for their way of life.
The Wah minority favor rat meat. They are from Tibet and in older times lent their wives to friends, or two sisters were allowed to share one husband. Those practices are now forbidden. Many Wah are still nomadic and they live on the road and move about with their burden animals and small tents. Girls live in white tents. Any man can go in the tent and fornicate with her because she has to have a baby to prove that she is fertile before she can marry. She usually chooses the first one to impregnate her. But, the tent is guarded by a dog and the man must fight off a huge guard dog to take his chances with this girl. He cannot use modern weapons, he can fight the dog with stones and his fists.  A Tibetan man shares his sister if her husband dies. She can fornicate with her son in Mongolian Culture. From a modern view, they were all barbarians.

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