What is special about Northern Yunnan?

Feilai Kawagarbo Moody

So, I’ve been busy lately.  Really.  I have completed the second edition of my Dongguan, China 中国东莞 second edition book, printing now, and traveling to one of the far corners of China, northern Yunnan.  Specifically Shangri-La and Deqin/Feilai.  I have traveled here due to the brilliant Tibetan culture thriving in the area and the spectacular scenery.  My next book will most likely be the Yunnan book and will be published next year.  I think I’ve collected a fairly wonderful amount of images from Yunnan, a province in south-western China with more minorities and just special places than most of the rest of China combined.  I’ve really fallen in love with this place.  I actually love many other provinces as well, but since I’ve spent many trips recently here, it’s got a bit stronger taste in my mouth.

Now I will share with you an image of Kawagarbo.  It is said that you must either be lucky, or have done some good to be able to see the peak as it’s often shrouded in mist and clouds.  Kawagarbo (Khawa Karpo, or many other names associated with the 6740 meter high mountain peak, the tallest in Yunnan.) is a sacred and special mountain to Tibetan Buddhists as it’s named for the god the peak is named after.  If you want more info, check out the wiki on the mountain.

As I traveled to the mountain, I knew I was going to be a lucky guy, I just wanted the mountain gods to prove it.  After arriving in Feilai after a 4.5 hour journey from Shangri-La, I had some lunch with a few fellow travelers then set on photographing the peak.  The only problem was it was covered in mist and clouds.  Ouch.

No problem, I told myself.  The clouds will part…  Somehow.  It was at 6:35 that it happened.  The peak was being a bit mysterious, as it should be, and I could finally see the outline of the sacred rock.  I was happy.  It was all I had hoped for so I began snapping, but found my images were quite different than any I’d previously looked at of the mountain.  They took on the personality of the mountain itself.  The images were mysterious and somehow mystical and i LOVED IT!  One of my favorite images from this period is included above.

Then the clouds overtook the peak again.  I was satisfied that I had looked upon the unseeable (There are stories of people waiting for weeks and not getting a single glimpse of Kawagarbo.) however, I felt there was more.

At about 7pm, the clouds started moving away.  Slowly, but surely, I was going to get a clean look at the Warrior mountain.  Then came 7:15 and the view couldn’t have been more magical.  I scurried around the stupas of Feilai attempting shots that could be worthy of a special mountain like Kawagarbo.

I believe I succeeded.


I will post images over the coming days on my site in the “This is China” galleries section of the site.