Around the world, bamboo hats are synonymous with Asia. Traveling in China, you are likely to see these ubiquitous head coverings worn by farmers as they work, especially if you visit Yunnan province. This beautiful and largely secluded province in southern China has resisted much of the rapid development that has come to the rest of China.
Yunnan's many ethnic minorities and diverse geography have led to quirks and peculiarities that are unique to the province, such that the locals like to brag about the "18 Oddities of Yunnan."
Though an official list of the oddities does not exist (probably because locals would not be able to choose which of the numerous local oddities should comprise the official catalog of 18!), many are widely agreed upon, including the unique fact that bamboo hats are used as cooker lids.
In Yunnan, China, the year-round temperate climate has bestowed rich and flourishing plant life on much of the province, especially in reed and bamboo forests. The clever and thrifty locals make optimum use of these abounding natural resources - weaving chairs, fans, shoes, cooker lids, and almost every daily necessity that can be made out of bamboo and reed strips!
Since most in the province are farmers or work outdoors, bamboo hats are a common sight and an essential item for most locals. Nearly every kitchen has one or two bamboo-hat cooker lids, a simple and inexpensive way to steam their staple food - rice. Bamboo covers allow the water vapor to escape while it is cooking, rather than being contained by a metal lid, which causes condensed steam to flow back into the pot, which as everyone knows, will "ruin the flavor!" Once the rice is cooked, the cook can simply grab his or her bamboo hat and head back outdoors, even if it's raining!
A Yunnan tour is the best way to see this and the other oddities that the province is proud of. Come travel China and see all that China is!