A Magical Place!
18.04.2008 - 29.04.2008 23 °C
Yunnan province is located in the south west of China and has so much to offer the first time visitor. Yunnan is home to around 50% of China s ethnic minorities. People look totally different to the people in some of the other parts of China we travelled through (ie Non-Han).
We stayed in Kumning the capital city of the Yunnan area for 2 nights to sort out our Laos and Vietnamese visas. Kumning is a typical Chinese city modern with big skyscrapers, high street shops and lots of fast food.
From Kumning, we travelled to Lijang by overnight sleeper bus which took around 10hrs. We watched a James Bond movie in Chinese (with Chinese subtitles too) that killled 2hrs off the journey. Poor Ben was far too tall for his bed and his shoulders were too wide so he was squashed into the metal barriers around his bed! Ben didnt have the most comfortable of journeys but I was snug as a bug and slept for a good bit of the journey. We arrived in Lijang at around 6.00am and got a taxi to the old town to try and find our guesthouse. The old town is a maze of cobbled streets and no cars are allowed in so the driver dropped us at the entrance to the old town. We walked around in the dark for around an hour trying to find the damn place! Every where was closed and anybody that we met hadnt a word of English. Eventually we passed a hotel that was open and asked the lady at the reception to give our place a bell. Luckily enough the owner came for us and brought us to the guesthouse!
We were so lucky that the owner found us. Usually we have the name of the place and the address in Chinese but the girls in our last hostel had no English and we forgot to ask somebody else (wont be making that mistake again!). The owner and his family were lovely and very good to us. Our room was fab and only 2euro each a night shame about the squat toilet though. They washed all our smelly manky clothes too for around a euro!
Lijang is a fabulous place to wonder around and soak up the atmosphere. Its full of old Chinese style houses, canals and its also home to the Naxi people. We gave around 2 days in Lijang and got a bus from ther to Shangri La. The bus journey was terrible especially for the first 2hrs and the battery in my iPod went to make matters worse!
At 3200m it was much colder in Shangri La and the air was noticably thinner but nothing like the thin air in Nepal.
Shangri La is home to a large Tibetan population, temples and wild scenery. It felt like the wild west so many people on horses and the men were right looking cowboys! We rented out bikes for the day and cycled around to see all the local sights which included a really old Tibetan temple home to around 600 monks but we only saw around 6 the rest of them must have been hiding out the back. Had a fab time in Shangri La it reminded us of Nepal with the snowy mountains and yaks!
From Shangri La we got a bus to Qiaotou to start the Tiger Leaping gorge trek. We started at around 11.30 and finished walking by around 5 that day. It was a brillant day and we walked through some jaw dropping look out points. The gorge is one of the deepest in the world and it sure did feel like it when we looked over the edge. Probably not the best place to be if you suffer from Vertigo! We stayed in a lovely guesthouse along the gorge trek. Frankie the owner had great time for us and we gave him some good catch phrases to lure more trekkers in so he fed us a few free beers! It was lovely to wake up the following morning overlooking the gorge. We had short walk that morning and made our way to the end point. We got a shared taxi with 2 other Irish girls and a Chinese guy back to the start point Qiaotou village. If ever I thought I was going to die it was in that bloody car. We were right on a cliff face around 2000ft above the gorge and the driver was an absolute lunatic, he was ripping it along the road. He had a serious death wish and I was shouting at him to slow down but he did nt understand me. Luckily enough the Chinese guy told him for me. I was never so terrified in all my life all I could do was close my eyes and hope for the best.
From Qiaotou we got a bus back to Lijang and stayed there for another 2 nights at the same guesthouse. We found it no problem this time around! From Lijang we got another sleeper bus back to Kumning. I had the worst bed on the bus! Bed number 31 never again! Right at the very back of the bus there were 5 beds and I was in the very middle. I had a Chinese guy with his elbow stuck in my head and Ben squashing me from the other side. It was so uncomfortable. We felt every bump on the road along the way. The other sleeper bus was lovely we were very unlucky to get stuck at the back of the bus. Must book the tickets early next time around! We were so happy to arrive in Kumning and get off the bus.
Our last night in China was a sad one We both really enjoyed China and all the Chinese people we met along the way were lovely and really friendly. We had some great laughs with them even if they didnt understand us half the time and vice versa!
From Kumning we got on a plane to Vientiane the capital of Loas!