Odyssey Guide Yunnan: China South of the Clouds (Odyssey Guides) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2009/7/14
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A guide to one of the least-known, but most beautiful provinces in China, with a focus on its mountainous terrain, natural marvels, and historic towns, along with a detailed exploration of Yunnan's diverse ethnic cultures. Original.
"Happy people! What do they know of the strife and turmoil of the western world? We wear ourselves out saving time in one direction that we may waste it in another, hurrying and ever hurrying through time as if we were disgusted with life, but these people think of time not in miles an hour but according to the rate at which their crops grow in the spring, and their fruits ripen in the autumn. They work that they and their families may have enough to eat and enough to wear, living and dying where they were born, where their offspring will live and die after them, as did their ancestors before them, shut in by the mountains which bar access from the outer world. - Frank Kingdon Ward - "商品の説明をすべて表示する
I am a great fan of Yunnan, and that's mostly because of its fascinating ethnic/cultural mix. I spent over a month exploring the province years ago, impressed by the diversity and a strong traditions of its minorities.
Back then guidebooks only covered a few popular tourist spots in Yunnan, basically the Kunming area, Dali, Lijiang, Zhongdian, Dehong and Xishuangbanna. A few more recent guidebooks promised more detailed and specific coverage, but none really delivered it.
Now, this book does! It covers all corners of Yunnan, fairly realistically divided into a chapter on popular regions and off the beaten path ones. Better still, at least for me, the author just happens to concentrate on the very thing I am interested in, that is minority cultures, and offers great, detailed info on these for each region. That info is presented in a lively, sympthetic style - a great read. The photos are great, too - as usual for Odyssey guides.
Now for the shortcomings. If minority cultures are NOT your main interest, you may find that information on other types of attractions, be it historical sights or especially nature, is very limited in comparision, and is buried in the text. Sights are not really highlighted in the flowing text, town maps are few and typically fail to show the location of most sights and places to stay. Practical information is even more limited. In the back of the book there is a list of hotels in key towns and cities, but it gives you neither price info nor even their names in Chinese script to help finding them. Transport information is, if anything, even more limited. Sure, I was not expecting Lonely Planet style detail on these, but even Odyssey guides usually do a better job at this!
But then, I am the type of person who can usually find these things out once there. So this guide is almost perfect for me, especially when accompanied by Lonely Planet's China's Southwest guide for practical details.
By the way, there's a reason Yunnan is called "south of the clouds". During my two week stay (March) there was not a single cloud in the sky. At an elevation of 2500 meters (8000 feet) the high plateau weather is comfortable most of the year - much like California weather. If you go, stay at the Linden Centre in Xizhou which is a boutique hotel created by restoring a Bai ethnic estate house. Don't miss this opportunity, because fast-changing China is sweeping away much that is old and unique.