Meet Yunnan with HK Classic Cars!



APD Writer: Zeng Xinlan, Johnson Liu

On November 21st, the writer travelled to Yunnan, southwest of China to hit a 1,000 km road trip together with a team of Hong Kong classic cars and their owners, foreign friends, as well as other media personnel. The journey has become an unforgettable experience to many and the stories need to be told.

Napa Lake Valley of Diqing

“Cultural Shock of Rolls-Royce”

In the morning of November 22nd, while others were having their breakfast before heading to Lijiang, Mr. and Mrs. Jiang were busying cleaning their precious car- a 1980 Rolls Royce Corniche to catch up with the schedule. When asked, it turned out that something unpredictable happened when the vehicle was packed back in Shenzhen: the chassis was hit by accident. Local repair shop was immediately informed and well- prepared, however, apparently no one dare to drive the vintage car out of the trailer. It was only after the owner arrived and brought it out on Nov.21st that the mechanics began to fix it overnight, leaving the couple to dress up it in the next morning.

Mr. and Mrs. Jiang are cleaning their 1980 Rolls Royce Corniche in the morning

Not only for the 37-year-old corniche, the Yunnan tour along Lijiang, Diqing, Dali and Kunming appeared to be a major challenge to all the vintage cars of decades of age. According to He Guanqiang, the monitor of the motor team, the ride is unprecedented for most of the cars and their owners. Though the team has succeeded in a similar road trip in eastern provinces in terms of its length, the rocky runway in Yunnan is a major challenge. The shipping of the vehicles from Shenzhen to Yunnan(1983 km from Shenzhen Bay Port to the dwelling hotel) is also a tricky problem.

The 1980 Rolls Royce Corniche is being packed.

Lai Shaochang, former president of Hong Kong Classic Car Association and the owner of 1965 Mercedes Benz 250 SL, said that he double-checked the car condition especially its brake system even two month before the event, assuring its effectiveness and accurateness. “Though I am not sure whether my body could handle the trip, I know that my car will, that’s for sure”, Mr. Lai said, chuckling.

Opening Ceremony in November 21st, Lijiang

The fondness and devotion of these enthusiasts towards their beloved car are quite obvious and one can sense it from the way they look at, talk and maintain it. Martin Keith Alan, president of the association, said “If the car breaks down, I’ll break down. So don’t worry, this thing(1963 Series 1 Jaguar E-Type) is stronger than me.”

Martin Keith Alan and his car: 1963 Series 1 Jaguar E-Type

“Starting from the ‘Cloud’ of the World-2017 Hong Kong Classic Car Yunnan Tour” is co-organized by the Yunnan Foreign Affairs Office and Xinhua Finance Agency, bearing the hope that the road trip across Yunnan cities of Lijiang, Diqing, Dali and Kunming would deepen mutual understanding and enhance cooperation between Yunnan and Hong Kong. Ten classic cars came all the way from Hong Kong and their owners cover more than 1,000 kilometers across the inland province in southwest China, bringing highlights and headlines to the region and its people.

The team arrived at Ganden Sumtseling Monastery.

Models for the parade includes 1930 Model A Ford, 1950 MG TD, 1962 Porsche 356C, 1963 Series 1 Jaguar E-Type, 1965 Mercedes Benz 250 SL, 1966 Volkswagen Westfalia, 1969 MGB Convertible, 1970 MGB GT, 1980 Rolls Royce Corniche and 1996 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta. Being the eldest, the 87-year-old 1930 Model A Ford still possesses the dazzling look from 5 years of refurbish and maintenance. “My friend gave it to me in 1998 and it took me 5 years to put everything in place”, said Li Xia, 69 years old, the owner of the antique fellow.

1962 Porsche 356C

“Tashi delek!” to The Southwest Beauty.

Tashi delek is a Tibetan greeting, meaning “Blessings and good luck”. Tashi means auspicious and Delek means fine or well. It’s commonly used in Tibet of China, Bhutan, regions of Nepal, Sikkim, as well in Diqing of Yunnan, a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. When the team arrived at Diqing on November 22nd after a major lift in altitude in this journey from 2,416m (Lijiang) to 3,400m (Diqing) above the sea level, they received warm and grand welcome by the Tibetan people with their Khata

(white votive scarves symbolizing purity and compassion in Tibetan Buddhism). All greeted “Tashi delek” to each other while being bestowed with the Khata.

In Diqing, the team visited the Dukezong Ancient Town, Napa Lake, Ganden Sumtseling Monastery and Shangri-la Alpine Botanical Garden.

Dukezong Ancient Town in Diqing

Bordering Tibet and under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism, Diqing is home to more than 130,000 people of Tibetan ethnic. Dukezong Ancient Town, known as “City of Moonlight”, has well preserved Tibetan houses and serves as a crucial cultural exchange port for various ethnic groups as well as a major hub on the Tea Horse Road. Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, built in 1679, is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, also known as the "Little Potala Palace”. The monastery welcomed the special guests from HK and aboard in 23rd. The antique temple and vintage car together immediately attracted local visitors and attributed to the headlines of the press.

Shangri-la in Chinese Character

Besides Tibetan culture, Yunnan also nurtures those of many ethnic groups like Nakhi, Bai and etc..

Shuhe Old Town, a small village located to the north of Lijiang, is one of the earliest habitats of Nakhi people in Lijiang region and a significant transportation hub along the ancient “Tea Horse Road”, sharing the reputation of the cradle of Dongba culture. HK and foreign guests arrived at Shuhe and shared a most cheerful dancing moment with local Nakhi people. The harmonious way in which tourism development and the interest of residents are balanced is also impressive. “The majority of indigenous people are the Nakhi ethnic group and the neighborhood is still their home”, said Mu Li, a local official.

Nakhi ladies in Shuhe Ancient Town

After Shuhe, the trip took the writer to Yuhu Village,

the last village of the valley, home to a group of Nakhi people. Nestled in the foothills of Yulong Snow Mountain, Yuhu was the chosen home of Joseph Rock, the famous Austrian-American botanist credited with introducing the Western world to northwest Yunnan's unique ecological and ethnic landscape.

Joseph Rock' former residents in Yuhu Village

In Dali, visitors had a taste of authentic culture of Bai ethnic. Bai girl served the guests with “Three Cups of Tea”— top taste of bitter, middle of sweet and low of savour, a Bai courtesy which dates back to the Ming Dynasty to welcome guests.

A powerful performance of dance of Bai ethinic in Dali

Located in the southwest of China, Yunnan is home to twenty-five ethnic groups (out of 56 of country in total). Some 38% of the province's population are members of minorities, including the Tibetan,Yi, Bai, Hani, Tai, Dai, Nakhi, Miao, etc..

Yunnan was described by Henry M. Paulson, the 74th Treasury secretary of American in his book “Dealing with China” as “one of the most singularly beautiful areas in the world”. And apparently whoever has been to Yunnan would never doubt about it. Huang Jinsheng, owner of 1950 MG TD, said “It’s an eye-opening experience. It’s so beautiful and serene and people are very nice. We’ll definitely come back.”

Napa Lake Valley

“Yunnan Time” under Belt and Road Initiative

Yunnan is the window of the opening-up of Southwest China and a significant regional center in ancient Tea Horse Road and the Silk Road of Southern China, playing an indispensable role in the construction and development in the Belt and Road Initiative, China- ASEAN Free Trade Area, LAN Mei cooperation, and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Zhang Zulin, Vice governor of Yunnan province meets with Nick Ng Chung-fai, president of Xinhua Finance Agency.

A dialogue meeting between HK guests and university students and alumni was held with the topic of “Seizing Opportunity and Self-Fulfillment” on 26th, Yunnan University, Kunming

The beauty and wealth of the far-flung area are to be unfolded by the world. Yunnan is rich in both natural resources and cultural diversity, providing the earth some of the most amazing gift like Marble, Pu’er Tea (Camellia sinensis var. assamica), Yunnan Baiyao(a series of Chinese patent medicines exclusively produced in Yunnan).

Classic Car poarade in Yunnan University

The province covers snow-capped mountains and tropical environments, supporting an unusually full spectrum of species and vegetation types. As China's most diverse province both culturally as well as biologically, Yunnan contains 17,000 species of higher plants, about half of China's birds and mammals, and is home to the southeast Asian gaur, the Indochinese tiger and the Asian elephant.

Nick Ng Chung-fai, president of Xinhua Finance Agency said that the Yunnan tour has been an impressive experience through which he appreciated the time-honored history and gorgeous landscape of Yunnan. The rapid development and cultural diversity of it are all remarkable, enhancing his understanding of the harmony and tolerance spirit of traditional Chinese culture. “I am very confident speaking to the emerging province of China and I hope that the event of ‘Classic Cars Yunnan Tour’ would become an icon in boosting cooperation in terms of tourism, economy, further promoting the friendship between Hong Kong and Yunnan.”

On November 27th, the classic car team arrived eventually in Kunming, capital city of the province after 1,000 km of road trip, and contributed a farewell performance to the land and its people at Changshui International Airport of Kunming. Ten fancy vintage cars in their fabulous appearance together with models—airport stuff in their traditional dress attributed an unforgettable sight to the city, highlighting the car culture, diverse minority cultures as well as the strength of modern Yunnan. The airport goodbye marks a perfect period to the 7-day journey from Nov. 21st to 27th, the legend of Yunnan, however, is yet to be told to the whole world.