Chinese Language Blog

The 18 Oddities of Yunnan Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

We’ve been talking about Yunnan province a lot here on the blog lately. After all, I did just wrap up a year of living and working there. Those who missed out can see those posts here – Part One and Part Two. In addition to being home to many stunning landscapes and colorful ethnic minorities, Yunnan also has a lot of interesting quirks about it. As a matter of fact, there’s even a list compiling them. It’s called the “18 Oddities of Yunnan” (云南十八怪 – yún nán shí bā guài), and it supposedly describes things that only occur in this southwest corner of China.

Yunnan is beautiful and unique.

Yunnan is beautiful and unique.

Although there’s no official list and they vary depending on who you ask, this is a pretty common version of it. Read them in Chinese, pinyin, and English to get a better understanding of this unique province:

1. Eggs are sold in rope-like clusters. 

鸡蛋用草串着买 – jī dàn yòng cǎo chuàn zhe mǎi

2. Rice cakes are called “ear piece.”

粑粑饼子叫饵块 – bā bā bǐng zi jiào ěr kuài

3. Three mosquitoes make up a meal.

三只蚊子炒盘菜 – sān zhī wén zi chǎo pán cài

4. Stones grow in the clouds.

石头长到云天外 – shí tou zhǎng dào yún tiān wài

5. Bamboo hats are used as wok lids.

摘下草帽当锅盖 – zhāi xià cǎo mào dāng guō gài

6. You wear the same clothes in all four seasons.

四季衣服同穿戴 – sì jì yī fú tóng chuān dài

7. Toes are exposed all year round.

脚趾常年都在外 – jiǎo zhǐ cháng nián dōu zài wài

8. Bamboo is used to make water pipes.

竹筒能做水烟袋 – zhú tǒng néng zuò shuǐ yān dài

9. Tiny horses are very hard-working.

袖珍小马有能耐 – xiù zhēn xiǎo mǎ yǒu néng nài

10. Grasshoppers are a delicacy.

蚂蚱能做下酒菜 – mà zhà néng zuò xià jiǔ cài

11. All four seasons produce good vegetables.

四季都出好瓜菜 – sì jì dōu chū hǎo guā cài

12. There’s good tobacco to smoke but not to sell.

好烟见抽不见卖 – hǎo yān jiàn chōu bù jiàn mài

13. Grannies climb mountains faster than monkeys.

老太爬山比猴快 – lǎo tài pá shān bǐ hóu kuài

14. Trains are slower than cars.

火车没有汽车快 – huǒ chē méi yǒu qì chē kuài

15. Children are raised by men.

娃娃出门男人带 – wá wá chū mén nán rén dài

16. Young girls are called “granny.”

姑娘被叫做老太 – gū niáng bèi jiào zuò lǎo tài

17. Rain here, sun there.

这边下雨那边晒 – zhè biān xià yǔ nà biān shài

18. Flowers bloom in all four seasons.

鲜花四季开不败 – xiān huā sì jì kāi bù bài

Amazing Yunnan.

Amazing Yunnan.

Should you ever find yourself in Yunnan, try to figure out the exact order of this list. I’ve asked tons of friends, students, and websites, and I get different answers from everyone. Perhaps we should add a 19th oddity to the list – “No one can agree on the 18 oddities.”


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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


  1. JUN:

    dude… am in yunnan and wanted to show my gf the 18 oddities and this came up…. awesome

    • sasha:

      @JUN That’s great! Where are you guys? Filming another show or just traveling? Hope my post could shine some light on Yunnan and all its funny quirks. Miss ya dude have a good trip!

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