Eighteen Oddities in Yunnan

In China, “the 18 Oddities” are often mentioned when we talk about Yunnan. Actually they are some strange phenomena that can be seen in Yunnan because of its unique geographical environment and folk customs of various ethnic groups, while less known to outsiders. Some phenomena have gradually disappeared, some still retain, and some are probably a little exaggerated. With the economic and social development of society, the life of local people in Yunnan witnessed the dramatic change. The list of the oddities has kept updating. So there are a few versions. Here below is one of them and make sure you eat or experience them while enjoy Yunnan tour packages

1. Eggs are sold in clusters

It is convenient for the local villagers in Yunnan to carry the eggs they bought. Without being damaged, they use straw or bamboo strips to make a vertical soft container of eggs. Each space for an egg is separated, five or ten pieces in a string, which could be hung on the wall. This can only be seen in the markets of rural areas nowadays.

Eighteen Oddities in Yunnan - eggs sold in clusters

2. Three mosquitoes make up one dish

The weather in many parts of Yunnan is relatively warmer, mosquitoes and flies can be seen all year round. Mosquitoes are so big in wildness of areas that only three of them can even be made into a plate of dish. Of course, this is an exaggeration.

3. Bamboo tubes are used to make water pipes

In rural areas of Yunnan, travelers often see the locals (esp. men) sit or squat by the road, smoking a kind of bamboo made water pipes. The devices are believed to filter the smoke with water and reduce the concentration of tar.

>> Further reading: Why Visit Yunnan - a Top Destination in China For International Travelers

4. Bamboo hats are used as wok lid

Traditionally many utensils are made of bamboo in Yunnan. Those bamboo hats are just about size to cover the woks and easy to catch, so they are used as a lid when cooking.

Eighteen Oddities in Yunnan - Bamboo hats are used as wok lid

5. Wearing the same clothes in all 4 seasons

Yunnan has a moderate climate, which is not hot in summer and cold in winter. There is no big change for dressing in different seasons. However, the temperature may vary greatly in one day.

6. Stir-frying grasshoppers is a delicacy

In Yunnan, the native people have a tradition of eating insects. In their eyes, grasshoppers and locusts are delicacies after being fried, which are great snacks served with Chinese liquor.

7. Rice cakes are called “ear piece” (Erkuai)

Erkuai is one type of staple foods in Yunnan, made of rice power (but not sticky rice), and very popular in Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La. It is easier to carry, preserve and cook. Besides steaming, boiling, stewing and grilling, stir-frying is the most popular way of cooking for Erkuai.

Eighteen Oddities in Yunnan - Rice cakes are called “ear piece”

8. One sack can contain only four bamboo rats 

As we know, there are many bamboo forests in Yunnan. These rats love eating bamboo shoots and become very big in size. Usually it is considered as the main course in a banquet.

9. Young girls are called grannies

In some areas of Yunnan, the aunts on both sides are called old ladies, even though they are still young. This is probably affected by the matriarchal system in the past. For example, the Naxi ladies in Lijiang shoulder more responsibilities in the families, who deserve more respects.

10. Grannies climb the mountain as fast as monkeys

Yunnan is well known for many high mountains and deep valleys. The locals are accustomed to climbing mountains, farming and cutting firewood, even those senior ladies can climb the mountain without much extra effort.

Eighteen Oddities in Yunnan - grannies

11. Monks can fall in love and get married

In Yunnan (like Xishuangbanna), Theravada Buddhism is widely practiced like those neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, which is a different school compared to Mahayana widespread in East China. Traditionally all young men were required to become short-term monks and perform religious services. After that, they could also choose to go home and lead a normal life.

12. The toes are exposed all year round

Yunnan is full of high mountains. Traditionally, locals have to walk a lot every day. Their feet in shoes often get soaked with sweat. So shallow sandals are widely used here to expose the toes and make the wearer feel cooler.

13. Small horses play big roles

Yunnan has a special breed of horses, which are much smaller than regular ones. The horses have fabulous endurance and plenty of stamina to carry the goods. So they are born transporting horses, the body size of them also fits the mountain trail. Therefore, they were widely used in history for transportation on the ancient Tea-horse Road. When you hike Tiger Leaping Gorge, it is very likely you can meet some. 

Eighteen Oddities in Yunnan - the small horses

14. Children are looked after by men

Possibly because of the impact of matriarchal society in history, the men in Yunnan are considered as "model husbands and excellent fathers". It is quite common to see the men here take the responsibility of looking after kids at home.

>> Futher reading: 8 Important Yunnan Travel Tips for Family with Kids 

15. Peanuts and broad beans are sold in piles

In the old days, the rural Yunnanese were so honest and unsophisticated that they prefer bartering things, instead of using cash money. Peanuts and broad beans were usually sold in piles at that time.

16. Flowers bloom in all four season

Thanks to the warm weather and various terrains, there forms a great plant kingdom. The different flowers bloom in different seasons. Even in winter, you will see the camellia and plum blossoms. All these made Yunnan the largest flower production base in China.

Eighteen Oddities in Yunnan - flowers bloom all years

17. Often see the sun and rain at the same time

Due to the complex terrains and changeable climate, it is common to see two weather phenomena on two sides of the same mountain.

18. Stones grow high in the sky

In east part of Yunnan, we can see typical Karst topography. The most famous spot is the Stone Forest with numerous towering pinnacles.

Recommended best Yunnan Tours: 

  • 9-day Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La Tour
  • 6-day Yuanyang Rice Terraces Tour
  • 16-day Yunnan Ethnic Exploration Tour with Lugu Lake
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