For years I had felt a compulsion to visit China, for what reason exactly I am unsure. Certainly it is a country rich in history, in art and in culture, all things for which I have a fascination. And of course from a culinary perspective China’s reputation for food which pushes the boundaries precedes itself. So it was in July this year that I set off for a month in China armed with an all-too-large suitcase, my camera, a handful of memory cards and an eyes-wide-open attitude for discovery and all things weird and wonderful.
The first destination in my month-long journey of China was Lijiang, an ancient village and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan Provence. Bordering Vietnam, Burma and Laos, Yunnan sits at over two thousand metres above sea level; it is home to 25 ethnic minorities and proudly boasts tea as its main export. In the 9 days I had there I spent hours wandering Lijiang’s cobbled streets admiring its impossibly beautiful ancient architecture and picturesque surroundings. I marvelled at unfamiliar and intriguing fruit, vegetables and produce at the most vast and lively market I had ever visited. I sipped beer, and rice wine in wee cafes whose balconies hung cantilevered over babbling brooks. I drank yak yoghurt, ate fried Rhododendron petals and water lilly stems and each morning had the most beautiful breakfast of congee (rice porridge), fresh steamed buns, fried peanuts, chilli, boiled eggs and pickled vegetables.
And if I wasn’t eating, drinking or admiring my surroundings I was pouring over beaten brass and copperware, over vivid woven fabrics and rustic leatherwork and beautiful horn spoons which I couldn’t help but purchase and pack into my ever-expanding suitcase.
The photos in this post go only a small way in capturing the beauty of Lijiang; its architecture, food and open, friendly people. I hope however that they provide some insight and perhaps may even inspire you to visit this special part of the world.