Red Land 红土地
Some said this place is created when God over spilled the colour palette.
It is hard to imagine that I could be having breakfast at Red Land (Dong Chuan, Yunnan, China) and having coffee at night in Malaysia at night. This magical land is so within reach but yet unknown to many who visited Kunming City.
The views are stunning and the hard works by the farmers on this highland (~2,500m to 2,700m) are simply touching. This could be illustrated by the picture below, see how the entire harsh mountain range has been cultivated into productive land?
Red Land more well known to the photography travellers. When we saw this momentary rays of lights from our car, our driver almost rushed to a stoppable area for us take this picture. It disappeared in less than 1 minute later. Everyone is having fun chasing after the light.
(note: all thumbnails were compressed, click picture to view a light version of the photo)
We took a local bus from Kunming City Northern Bus Terminal (昆明北部汽车客运站) to Flower Rock Village (花石头), cost RMB40 per head for the 4 hours trip. Hire a car will cost RMB1,000 per trip. Note that there is express bus from Kunming International airport (Route 3) to the Northern Bus Terminal, RMB25/pax for 1 hour+ ride.
You got to experience many interesting things along the way.
1) the driver may break all possible traffic guidelines, e.g. smoke inside the bus, collect cash without ticket by loading locals like sardine fish into the bus, double the allowable passenger headcounts, etc.
2) the opened style ‘toilet’ at the rest stop is a ‘must do’ tourist activity. You never been to China if you did not visit the toilet (in rural villages). Even the toilet at petrol station has no shelter between users. There are few holes to drop waste into the drain (no sewage system)
3) see what kind of goods the local transport up to the bus and fill up any usable space on the aisle or compartments
We missed the best season by 2 days. The harvest of the canola flowers (油菜花) just being harvested days before, therefore you may notice the picture missing yellow colour.
It was getting cold in November and it already snowing in Shangri-la. The best time to visit Red Land is October. May could be too warm for comfort.
You can see the giant windmills on the top of the mountain to harvest wind energy. Solar energy is another common electricity source for local guest house to provide hot water (only if there is sunlight). So the rate of the guest rooms differ from RMB60 to RMB300. It is advisable to get a room with diesel or electric water heater.
The naming of towns and places are very creative and interesting. I saw Cow Street, Horse Street, Chicken Street, Monkey Street, Rabbit Street etc. The picture was taken at ‘Musical Score Concave’ simple because the lines resemble musical notes and it caves inwards.
Clear blue sky is not ideal for photographing Red Land due to the harsh light. We were lucky to have some clouds on the next day. It was chilling but rewarding sunrise visit to Da Ma Khan (打马坎).
The most memorable experience was to walk among the farm houses. Our driver even pull out few reddish and we ate it raw.
Potato is one of the major crops planted on Red Land.
Farmers still use donkey, buffalo or horse to pull carts. The less accessible tracks have to use man power to carry crops and goods.
The name Red Land came from the iron and mineral rich soil in this region.
The landscape changes colour depending on the weather. The golden colour was lit by the setting sun rays. Local said that the colours of the fields pop up after rain and with the right sunshine.
Major sites at Red Land can be covered within 2 days.
Some travellers prefer to spend a week and walking on foot to the places of interest.
I would recommend you to hire a local driver who also acts as a guide to the scenic spots. Hiring a car cost around RMB260 to RMB400 per day.