Yunnan Stone Forest @ Kunming, China

November was a really hectic month for me. In between the days that flew by so quickly, I made a trip to Kunming, the capital and largest city of Yunnan province in Southwest China. Unlike most of my other holiday trips, I didn’t had the time to do research about this place other than hearing from my other half about the interesting sites for photography. So I had literally no idea what to expect or anticipate throughout the trip. On the second day of stay in Kunming, our tour guide brought us to Yunnan Stone Forest.

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As I was snoozing throughout the 120 km ride from the provincial capital Kunming, the picturesque views that were displayed on a huge screen just next to the ticketing counter quickly roused me up just by realising the photography opportunities that lies beyond the entrance gate.

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Yunnan Stone Forest is essentially an area filled with densely clustered limestone pillars which looks like a ‘forest’ made from stones. The formation was caused by carbonate rock formed under the sea and was later sculpted into a stone forest as a result of Earth’s crustal movement which converted the ocean to land and from plains to high plateaus. It is designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2007 and is dubbed as ‘superlative natural phenomena and the world’s  reference site for this type of rock formation.

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As I walked along the path, I started realising how huge the place is. The Stone Forest spans 350 square kilometers and is divided into five areas namely, Major Stone Forest, Minor Stone Forest, Naigu Stone Forest, Dadieshui Scenic Area and Changhu Scenic Area.

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While there was simply no way that I could cover the entire site in a few hours, I had the chance to witness how beautiful the rock formation is, especially at the top a hill which I had no idea how I ended up at. It is amazing how these rocks can be such an interesting subject to photograph.

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It was a tiring two hours walk despite the cooling weather and I noticed a handful of people were huffing and puffing while making their way up to a steep pathway. Nevertheless, the scenic view that awaits at every corner of this forest made it all worthwhile. I was told that the best time to visit Stone Forest is during sunrise or sunset but since we were all travelling with a tour guide, we had to stick to our travel itinerary.

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During my visit there, a lot of tourists, both local and foreigners were seen everywhere. There was also a popular legend that the forest is the birthplace of a beautiful girl named Ashima (阿诗玛). After falling in love, she was forbidden to marry her chosen suitor and instead turned into a stone in the forest that still bears her name.

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A view of the lake just outside the Stone Forest.

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