11.08.2012 - 15.08.2012
Nihao! Off to yunnan province we go.
We arrived in Kunming airport late at night and were pleased to see the stars for the first time, It was not as humid and smoggy. We got a bus into town and then a taxi. Our standard procedure now is to show the hotel name in Chinese to the taxi driver but for some reason no one wanted to take us this time. Eventually one guy dropped us off at a food delivery port at 12.30 at night, we were slightly worried but
we eventually figured out we were staying in one of the residential
apartment blocks around the corner. It was the cheapest place, for 14 euros
we got a clean room in a apartment and a very helpful guy who could speak
english and who helped us with bus tickets the next day.
The next morning before we set off on our bus journey we went on a mission
to buy a camel back but no such luck. Kumning centre had loads of shops and
restaurants so Starbucks breakfast was a must. The Chinese are not big on
breakfast, they eat noodles and beef in the morning so starbucks is a treat
when you can!
After a morning looking around the shops we headed for the bus stop to
catch our 7hr bus to Lijiang. We were expecting a big bus but we got a
little 8 seater which is better because it doesn't stop as much and is
quicker! Obviously we were the only tourists on the bus again so everyone
just stares at us. There was a little girl on the bus who could say a few
words in English who was fascinated with us. She stared at me for 7hrs. We
gave her a SA key ring, she was so happy.
I thought she was very cute until
she started spitting on the floor of the bus and then vomited. The most
interesting part of the trip was when we stopped at a road side restaurant
and we all sat together and had a meal. We have now realised this happens
of every long bus trip, you get a free meal.
Arriving in Lijiang at 11pm and trying to find our hotel was not easy.
About 5 cabs that we stopped would not take us so we eventually found a guy
who could barely speak English to phone the hotel and then he explained to
the cab where to go.
We got dropped off at the gate of the old town and our man Kong (who managed
the hotel) met us and directed us up the narrow busy streets in the old town.
The place we stayed was awesome. For 20 euros a night we got a lovely
little wooden cabin with a bathroom and a view of snow mountain and free laundry!
Lijiang old town is the biggest old town in china, its narrow pedestrian
streets are filled with shops and markets that have all sorts of food. We
spent ages taking photos of the local people, the strange food, the pretty
canals with lantern lit streets.
We got lucky to catch the end of the torch festival. We are still not sure
of the significance but the people light big fires in the streets and then dance round them.
Once again there were millions of Chinese tourists in this town, you had to
be careful and dodge the spitting in the streets. I did think I was going
to be flemmed on many times.
One of the main tourist attractions is Tiger leaping gorge. It is named
this because legend has it a tiger jumped over the gorge!!!! The hike is
about 6 to 7 hrs long. The first 2hrs are very steep and then the rest is
quite flat. Some people do the hike in one day but most decide to split it
over 2 days and stay at one of the guesthouses along the way. We decided to
do it in one day but it wasn't as easy as we thought......
The 1st bus only left at 8am and we were told it was 2 hrs to get there but
our bus only left at 9 and it took 4 hrs so we only started the walk t 1pm
in the midday scorching heat! We were also told it was free and when we got
there we had to pay rmb 70 each. This would not have been a problem if we
had Lots of cash on us but we had been having problems with finding ATMs
that take our cards and we realised if we had to sleep over we would not
have enough money for accommodation, food and a bus back( often the return is double)
Anyway, we set off and hoped we could make it before dark. We basically
overtook everyone we saw along the way and did the hike in brilliant time.
We got to the end at 6.30 pm and managed to wave down a taxi who took us
all the way back to Lijiang.
The scenery along he walk is absolutely beautiful, very sheer cliffs, snow
capped mountains with the yellow coloured river below, great day!!