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Kunming's eternal spring

By Erik Nilsson | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-14 07:57

Kunming's eternal spring

The Stone Forest in Kunming is a thicket of limestone formations that create a topographical miracle. ERIK NILSSON/CHINA DAILY

Three days of exploring Yunnan's capital reveals a land where geology, ecology and ethnology congeal to conjure a magical charm, Erik Nilsson discovers.

Stone spires. Karst caves. Wild wetlands.

Eclectic ethnic culture, languid lakes and fiery fare.

All this, set in a city of perpetual spring, where verdant landscapes flash every shade of green and flowers crackle color like fireworks in every season.

The city exists on an unparalleled plane, where geology, ecology and ethnology intersect in incredible ways.

It has long been a bastion for bohemians, from ancient literati to dreadlocked hippies today-for good reason.

The place is poetry.

Foreign visitors from dozens of countries can enjoy a 72-hour visa-free transit in the city. China Daily spends three days divining the magic that Yunnan's capital conjures.

DAY 1: Stone Forest

Countless stone daggers slice the Stone Forest's skyline, lacerating the horizon to sculpt one of our planet's most unearthly places.

The karst formations have, in turn, forged the culture that dwells amid them.

They serve as the fantastical fairyland setting for a fairy tale of the Yi ethnic group's Sanyi branch, in which a local shepherd rescues his true love from an evil landlord, who tragically then turns the couple to stone.

The topographical miracle is worth setting aside a whole day to explore. That's not only because guides say much of their job is helping lost people navigate their way out of the rocky labyrinths.

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