Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

Posts Tagged ‘Dali

4 weeks in Yunnan — in pictures

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Four weeks in Yunnan

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Aboard a sleeper bus

I’ve been in the sunny south of China, in the southwestern province of Yunnan, for about four weeks now. I’ve enjoyed the blue skies and warm weather — in contrast to gray, polluted Beijing where it’s been an unusually cold November.

I’ve been staying with a friend who lives just outside of Kunming, the provincial capital, in a one-street town. She works for a non-profit called Teach For China, who send American and Chinese graduates to impoverished Chinese schools in Yunnan and Guangdong provinces.

My friend is from Texas and last week we celebrated an early Thanksgiving dinner in the scenic old town of Dali, alongside two dozen or so of her colleagues who had all converged on Dali, traveling from their variously remote schools.

Yunnan province is larger than Japan and Germany, with hilly terrain, so a group of us have been traveling on sleeper trains and sleeper buses. It’s been quite the adventure.


Yunnan is home to the most ethnic minorities of any province in China. Let me list some of the names of these minorities: Derung, Nahki, Pumi, Hani, Tibetan, Va, Jinpo, Dai. Another of these, the Naxi, use the Dongba script, which is the only pictographic writing system in use in the world today, according to Wikipedia.

Traditionally, Yunnan has never really been considered a part of “core China”, which was centred around the Yellow river basin, and then, later, the Yangzi river basin. Not until the Mongol invasion of China did Yunnan come under direct administrative control of central government. It’s a diverse part of the country.

There’s a book I want to read called The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China, by former China correspondent David Eimer (now Bangkok-based). Eimer spent months traveling the frontiers of China, from the frozen steppe of Manchuria in the north, to the dry Turkic far west, down to the jungly and drug lord-run far south. I’ve read several reviews of the book and there are quoted journalistically interesting passages.

I am hoping to spend time with some of China’s more remote peoples, when I get the chance.

Smartphone photography

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All the photos in this blog entry were shot using my LG G2 phone. Many of them have been edited using the app VSCO. This shot was taken in Bakery88 in Dali, Yunnan.

Lately, I’ve taken to using my smartphone as my photographic device. At the moment, I’m in Yunnan and have been traveling around the province. The photo you see in the below post, in the previous blog entry, was shot using my phone, edited on my phone, and uploaded onto this blog with my phone.

For work I still rely on my trusty Canon S120. The camera is what I use on journalism assignments. But for everything else, my phone replaces it. Much of this has to do with the fact my phone is always on me.

But even while traveling in Yunnan, where my camera is readily available in my rucksack, I’ve left it in there, in the hostel locker, while I’ve traipsed around, phone in pocket ready to be fished out.

Why a smartphone is better than a digital camera as a travel camera

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Written by Lu-Hai Liang

November 23, 2015 at 7:27 am

Cangshan, Yunnan — 17th November

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