Old Town alley, Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006.
The rainstorm cleared to reveal a full moon, and the wet cobblestones reflected its bright white light as if the glowing bits were made of snow, not stone. Yet in the narrow alleys of old Lijiang, where electric lights are adolescent in age compared to the walls they hang from, moon and starlight are not enough to brighten the darkness for safe walking.
A shady seat, Yeshu Lu, Dali, Yunnan Province, China. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006.
Not everybody carried in Dali around an umbrella to avoid the midday June sun. This man found a stoop with an overhang to sit on. Dali’s such a small town that he might’ve known the stoop’s owners, but there’s so many people everywhere in China that there’s just as good a chance that he knew them only marginally better than he knew me – in other words, not at all.
A midday stroll down Renmin Lu, Dali, Yunnan Province, China. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006.
When I was in Dali, the sun felt preternaturally bright at midday, and many people carried umbrellas to protect themselves. Backpackers, like myself, whipped out our sunglasses and sunblock and hoped for the best. In the right light, I imagine you could see a backpacking tourist from miles off, skin shiny from the SPF 30 chemical mix and a band of black plastic just below the hairline like some kind of misplaced Hollywood star.
Skyscraper near Government Square, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006.
Jumping from Beijing, one of the most polluted cities in China, to Kunming, one of the least (for its size), was most memorable for the sudden appearance of blue sky. Kunming was pleasant, but nobody goes to Yunnan for its cities.