From warm and sunny Manila to gray, wintry Tianjin and straight into the tropical arms of Xishuangbanna, I finally figured out how to escape China without leaving the country. Eight years living in the mainland’s more polluted north has taken it’s toll and I longed for change. I did not have to look further afield. Hopping on a plane to the edge already feels like another country. I can hardly understand the Mandarin that they speak and that I had slowly, painfully nurtured learning through the years. Banna feels and tastes a lot like Thailand and Vietnam without losing my husband’s direct connection to the motherland. Best of all, the lush vegetation, the extreme greenery makes it an Eden without the price tag of the big cities or more popular tourist destinations like Dali.