In the summer, up to half of a multi-course meal may consist of mushrooms, the best I have had. Fried goat cheese is served, and the ham exceeds that of Spain in quality. I had not thought that buckwheat flour pizza, dipped in fresh honey, would be a staple in Chinese food. There is also flower soup of numerous kinds, corn dishes, pumpkin, and donkey.
Even the largest city in Yunnan — Kunming — has fresh air, a rarity in China. The weather is perfect year round, and the faces have Burmese, Tibetan, Thai, and Mongolian features. About one third of the population is explicitly classified as “ethnic minority,” and most of the others look like a blend with Han Chinese.
Dali, the second largest city, is nestled into a lake and mountains as a Swiss city might be. You could explore the neighboring villages around the lake for months. I recommend Xizhou, stay at Linden Centre.
The population is pro-American, not always the case in China, and the Flying Tigers, who flew bomber missions against Japan from Yunnan, are cited frequently, including in dinner toasts to visiting scholars.
Yunnan University has a significant program in cultural economics, and as my hosts I thank them for the invitation and for their extreme hospitality.
Yunnan is arguably the nicest province in China to visit, and one of the best trips in the world right now. The quality of infrastructure and accommodations is good, but exoticism and surprise remain high, the perfect combination. Go before it’s too late.