Rice terraces in Yunnan, China

My trip to the Chinese province of Yunnan could be a story on its own, but the main reason I wanted to go there was visiting Yuanyang rice terraces, a UNESCO listed site, known locally as “titian”.

Getting there wasn’t easy, but when I finally arrived, I realized I’m up for a big disappointment: the mountain-top villages where shrouded in thick fog. Experience told me it wasn’t to lift any time soon, and I was right. The fog remained for the next two and a half days. Every now and then, the skies would tease you for a few minutes by revealing just a bit of what the landscape below the viewpoints could look like, before cloaking it again with grey and white blankets of mist. Still, I would set my alarm clock for an ungodly morning time every night hoping to wake up, glance in the window and see the clear sky.

On day three it finally happened. Since it was still dark, I couldn’t quite see the view I came here to see from my perfectly positioned hotel room, but I could see fading stars in the sky and just a hint of dawn around the edges of mountains around. I jumped out of bed and hightailed to a viewpoint I had previously found out about, which was a good 20-25 minutes walk from the hotel.

The spectacle I saw that morning was worth the whole trip. As I was clicking away from a frigid, windy spot, completely alone, there was this image that I specifically wanted to capture – just a closeup of dozens of flooded terraces, way below me, descending like a giant shiny staircase hundreds of meters below. Titian himself would have probably turned into a landscape artist if he saw it that morning.