Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Date: 28 Apr 09 – 5 May 09 [8D/7N], this includes Sapa+Hanoi Vietnam as well
Location: YuanYang, Yunnan China
Camera: Canon EOS 350D
Lens 1: Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC
Lens 2: Tokina AT-X 124 AF Pro DX 12-24mm f/4
Filter: NIL
Post editing: PS CS3
Members: Dan, Si Fong, Thomas and Sam
My reason to go there: Seen some really nice pictures of YuanYang, it is still relatively unknown to the major tourist crowd.

The town of Old Yuanyang is a Hani minority settlement atop a ridge of the Ailao mountain range at an elevation of around 1570 metres. It is a popular destination with photographers due to the vast areas of nearby mountains which have been cultivated into terraced rice paddies for at least the past 1300 years by the Hani people. Despite the overwhelming scenic beauty of its landscape and colorful local minorities, mass tourism hasn't developed in this region as yet, mainly due to its remote location, lack of a nearby airport, and until fairly recent, relative inaccessibility due to bad road conditions.

The terraced areas of interest to visitors are mainly found between 1000 and 2000 metres above sea level. The winter temperatures here, although never freezing, are such that they only support one rice crop a year. After the harvest, from mid-September till mid-November depending on the elevation, the terraces are filled with water until April, when planting begins.


The vast majority of the ethnic minority women in Yuanyang county still wear traditional clothes as their daily attire. The main ethnic group is the Hani who share the region with several other minorities such as the Yi and Miao. Market days in the villages tend to be very colourful when the different minority groups in the vicinity, each in their own traditional costume, come together to trade and socialize.

In 2008, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of the People's Republic of China submitted the Honghe Hani Terraced Fields for World Heritage Site status. A quote from the justification: “Hani people have created fantastic and perfect land art of vast terraced fields in the heritage site. Integrating the terraced fields into the unique landform, forests and plant covers, valleys and streams and other natural landscapes they have developed a unique masterpiece of ethnic art which has organically fused the ethnical art, landscape art and agricultural techniques.”

The Hani and Yi, the creators of the monumental rice terraced mountains which have made Yuanyang famous, are the original inhabitants of these regions. Both their languages belong to the Tibeto-Burman group. Their villages can mainly be found between 1300 to 1600 metres above sea level.

The Dai moved here 700 years ago. The Zhuang 400 years ago. Both their languages belong to the Kradai language group. Their villages are situated in the warmer areas below 700 metres elevation, near and along the rivers. Their main crop is rice grow in paddy fields.

The Miao and Yao (of the Hmong-Mien language group) are fairly recent arrivals to the region, only settling here 200 and 270 years ago. Their villages are in the cooler and drier upland areas, between 1600 and 1800 metres above sea level, where they grow maize

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