Yunnan Eighteen Oddities

Eighteen Oddities in Yunnan(云南十八怪), sometimes called Eighteen Wonders of Yunnan, are eighteen unique traits of the Yunnan province of southwest China. The oddities, which are as follows, are generally presented in the form of a list, which is promulgated in promotional materials advertising the province to foreign and domestic tourists.

Yunnan Province is situated in an area of low latitude and high altitude, and accordingly its climate is quite diversified in different places. It is also a province with the greatest number of minority groups. Apart from the Han people there are 25 other minorities, such as Yi, Bai, Zhuang, Dai, Tibetan and Yao, etc., which constitute almost one-third of the total population. The province’s unique geography, special climate and colorful human geography all make its culture and customs very different from any other place in China. While the Eighteen Oddities have spread far and wide long ago, there are the Twenty-Eight Oddities and Eighty-One Oddities of the province that try to capture its special customs. However, increasing communications and a developing economy in the province have made such oddities a thing of the past. Some major oddities are listed. 

Eighteen Oddities of Yunnan

There are eighteen oddities in Yunnan, which vividly display the unique traits of this province. The followings are commonly recognized:

1. Eggs are tied up sold in rope-like clusters
Eggs are tied up in straw and sold in string for the customers’ convenience. Buyers can hang these eggs against the wall.

2. Bamboo hats are used as wok lids
Bamboo forests are commonplace in Yunnan, so quite a few utensils are made of this kind of material. Such pot cover breathes and is easy to hold.

3. Three mosquitoes make up a dish
It is an exaggeration. But it must be admitted that in many sweltering areas of Yunnan mosquitoes and flies are common, and they are much bigger than those in the cote. 

4. Bamboo is used to make water pipes for smoking
Similar to pipe used for blow up the fire on the outside, the water pipe made of bamboos is still different from that. With water pipe people have to breathe in rather than blow up. Filtering the smoke can decrease the tar concentration.

5. Dali Baba is called Erkuai.
Erkuai, which literally translates as ear pieces, is made of glutinous Yunnan rice, and this snack can be tried in different ways – by frying, cooking, or steaming.

6. The same dress is worn for all four seasons
Due to changing weather of Yunnan, the province often sees people on the street wearing different kinds of dresses of the four seasons in a single day.

7. Young girls are called “Lao Tai”
Lao Tai, literally meaning old lady in mandarin, is calling a young girl in Yunnan. It is so happened because of different pronunciation of vernaculars.

8. Automobiles move faster than trains
As there are many high mountains and canyons in Yunnan, railways are of steep gradients and of many bends, which slow the train down. Therefore, that the bus runs faster than the train can be found.

9. Toes are exposed all year round
Bumpy roads make it difficult to walk, so locals often have foot sweating. And shoes are often designed with low soles and low-cuts, making toes exposed and feeling cooler.

10. It rains here but shines there
It is used to describe the special geographical location of Yunnan and its changing weather in different areas just a few miles apart. For instance, the weather of the two sides of a mountain may differ a lot, one seeing the sun shining, the other seeing raining heavily.

11. Girls wear flowers in all four seasons
Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan, is also known as Spring City, and the weather in other areas of the province is similar to that of Kunming. Fresh flowers can be seen in Yunnan in any season.

12. Girls carry tobacco bags
The Lisu minority girls have a habit of smoking and chewing tobacco. Most married and unmarried females hang tobacco bags on their waist belts. Women present bags to one another with respect on the occasion of union to show kindness and intimacy that gradually becomes a necessary entertainment to their guests. 

13. Green vegetables are called “bitter vegetables”
The green vegetable in Yunnan is a special local product which doesn’t actually taste bitter. However, it gained its reputation as being a bitter vegetable from local traditional customs.

14. Grannies climb mountains faster than monkeys
Because of high mountains and deep valleys, women have already got used to climbing and doing farm work. For ladies in their seventies or eighties, it is as easy to climbing the mountains as walking on the flat path.

15. Trains go abroad but not inland
There was a narrow railway of 464.2 kilometers long from Kunming to Hanoi in Vietnam at the end of Qing dynasty which was the first international railway in the province. It was constructed by the French during 1903 to 1910 and cost more than 50,000 lives. However, by then Yunnan didn’t even a domestic railway. 

16. Monks can have love affairs
As Yunnan province is adjacent to a couple of Buddhist countries where men going to the temple to be a monk is as common as men going to school or serving an army, monks in Yunnan can resume secular life and get married, and residents living in the frontier can wear gowns to have a love affair. 

17. Children are raised by men
Yunnan women are so industrious that they often work outside to earn money. Men, on the contrary have more leisure time to stay at home to take care of their children.

18. Automobiles move in the clouds
Roads in Yunnan usually wind up along colossal and precipitous mountains. Fog spreads all over the mountaintops, creating the illusion of driving through clouds in a fairyland.

The items on the list are not fixed, so other versions of the list may include other oddities, including:

1. Stone grows in the clouds – Yunnan’s Shilin, or Stone Forest resembles stalagmites growing out of the ground.

2. Locusts or grasshoppers are eaten as a delicacy- Many people in Yunnan are fond of eating locusts, because they taste crisp and fresh after being fried. So locusts have become popular delicacy that can go with the wine in Yunnan.

3. Fresh flowers are served as a vegetable.

4. Water and fire are worshipped as gods.

5. People sing rather than speak.

6. Tea leaves are sold in piles- The Jinpo minority group in Luxi county of Dehong prefecture sells tea leaves by piles instead of using scales. 

7. Non-slanting walls are built with cobblestones.

8. Keys are hung on waist belts.

9. Small, lean horses are hard-working.

10. Fresh fruits and vegetables are available in all four seasons.