Photo Essay: A Day in Yunnan, Southwest China

These days when our focus is narrowed in on our own vicinity and the ever-changing pandemic in our own city and province, we want to invite you to walk in someone else’s shoes for a change.

To accompany our February story “Wuhan, One Year Later” we asked Crystal, a photographer who lives in Southwest China, to document life right now in her own city. Result? Stunning and candid images in muted colour schemes show the new normal in Yunnan, 1500 kilometres southwest of Wuhan, as restrictions are relaxed and people return to the streets and parks.

As we accompany Crystal through the streets we see commuters on their way to work.

The metro (subway) station was completely empty while covid remained a threat.

Now there are people again.

Workers in the metro station maintain order, check passengers for Covid symptoms and measure foot traffic. Commuters scan codes on their phone to take the subway, and cleaning never stops.

Crystal says, “Life is on.” But things have changed. Some people relax with less restrictions and no longer wear their masks constantly, like these men with their motorcycles. Most people can’t go back to living without a mask, at least not yet. “This pandemic has really altered our sense of necessities and lifestyles.”

Life continues to pick up, going from the emptiness of lockdown to the whirr of life. Under a bridge, Crystal captured the muted silence slowly filling with motion over the months:

In Yunnan as in Canada, workers in many sectors, are indispensable to daily life in covid times. Mailmen, like this one, are very important to daily life. So are the workers who take away the trash.

Christian Courier is grateful to Crystal for capturing these moments for us.

Read the related news story, “Wuhan, One Year Later”, here.


  • Maaike VanderMeer

    Maaike first appeared in CC's pages as a teenage writer from Ontario. Fast forward almost a decade later (and relocate to a land-based fish farm in southern British Columbia), and Maaike stepped in as CC's assistant editor for a year in 2021. Now she serves as Art and Development Manager. She is intrigued by the symbiotic relationship between hope-oriented journalism and the arts, and the place it has in CC's pages. Her degree is in Intercultural Service and World Arts and she creates original watercolours and graphics for CC (proving that work can be fun). You can follow more of Maaike's visual experiments on Instagram @maai_abrokentulip

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