A Forest of Stone in Yunnan, China

On June 7th, I caught a sleeper bus to Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. This is what the inside looks like, with three long rows of beds:

As we barrelled along the winding mountain highways of Yunnan Province, I tried to enjoy the views as much as possible when I wasn’t sleeping:

Some ducklings were hanging out at one of our rest stops:

The bicycle/scooter lane on roads in Kunming is often very busy:

Outside the Kunming train/bus station:

Eating lychee is good for your health:

On June 9th, I caught a bus to Shilin, known in English as the Stone Forest. Instead of me describing it, just have a look at the photos here. I ended up befriending some businessmen visiting from the other side of China, as one of them had fairly good English skills, and spent the whole day with them!


These people were playing some traditional instruments and doing a little jig and a song, but it only lasted about 30 seconds each time then they’d stop and after a minute they’d do it again, exactly the same each time, just for tourists to feel that they were getting a cultural experience:

Fish in a pond:

A map of the Stone Forest tourist area:

Of course, no trip would be complete without changing into the traditional garb of the locals for photo opportunities, which is what one of the businessmen did:

This lady showed us around and one of the businessmen translated what she said when it was interesting:

My friend Haoran, who translated and conversed with me the whole time:

The traditional way to drink tea, apparently:

On the 10th I flew from Kunming to Beijing to Vancouver. On my Air China flight, this was an advertisement stuck to the fold-down dinner tray:

Hiking to the Waterfalls Outside Nabang/Laiza

After only a few days in the area, I had the chance to hike along the river that officially divides Yunnan Province, China and Kachin State, Burma to visit a waterfall with three friends. It was the only real trip I would make in my seven and a half weeks in the area, so I’m glad I took advantage of it.

It was a bit tough going in the midday heat right after eating a big lunch, but it was nice. We had to walk across the river several times where we couldn’t continue on the same side we were on, and as we waded across several times my bare feet nearly slipped on the rocks underwater. Luckily that didn’t happen, as I had two non-waterproof cameras, a non-waterproof GPS device, and my non-waterproof phone with me!

When we arrived at the waterfalls it was great to sit down and relax, eat a huge handful of peanuts, and take some photos of my friends playing around in the water:

The walk home was much easier as it was more downhill and the weather had cooled slightly. I like this kind of bridge – I wish we had more like this in Canada:

After returning home, it was time for supper, ping pong, a shower, and sleep.

My First Visit to China

On April 10th, after one and a half weeks in Vancouver, my parents and baby sister drove me back to the airport. We had a nice coffee after I checked in, then I headed through security and off to my gate for my first trip to China. The flight to Beijing took about 11 hours, and there was some nice scenery along the way as we flew up the coast of BC, along the coast of Alaska, and back down along the coast of Russia and Korea. This photo is somewhere over the far eastern reaches of the Asian part of Russia:

I had to take a photo of this sign on the inside of the bathroom stall door in the Beijing airport – I agree, it certainly is more convenient to use the loo when the door isn’t wide open:

I spent a few hours in the Beijing airport, which wasn’t all that great in my opinion. I’m not sure whether it was just the part of the airport I was in, but there were very few food services available. I ended up finding a cafe with good coffee and tasty mango smoothies though. Then I caught my next flight to Kunming, in Yunnan Province (in south central China), arrived after midnight, found my hotel, and went to sleep.

On the 12th I spent several hours walking around Kunming. It’s surprisingly quiet for a city of 8 million – mainly because gasoline-powered motorcycles are not permitted in the city. Instead, everyone drives around on electric motorbikes, which are extremely quiet (to the point of danger, really, since they often drive full speed on the sidewalk without making their presence known to pedestrians).

I spent 4 nights in Kunming. Most of the days were spent in an office helping with some English proofreading, and avoiding mosquitoes:

Beautiful scenic view from the office:

On the 15th I caught an overnight sleeper bus to Mangshi/Luxi. It wasn’t terribly uncomfortable, and it was nice actually having a bed on a bus for once rather than a cramped seat. 3 long rows of bunk beds on a bus definitely wouldn’t pass Canadian safety standards, but it would be a lot more comfortable than a Greyhound!

After a few hours in Mangshi I made my way by road to Nabang, a town on the border with Burma. We had to wait about half an hour at one point while an accident was cleared up, as the road was blocked in both directions, but other than that the 5 hour drive was quite easy, with nice scenery. A typical view:

I spent the next seven and a half weeks in this area, helping out in an office with various tasks such as proofreading, working on databases and data entry forms, and eating a lot of rice. I managed to get food poisoning once, which is quite an accomplishment since I never get sick, and I drank the equivalent of a full-sized keg of orange drink. Each litre has 1700 calories, so you can imagine how healthy that was for me…

Photos of interesting creepy crawlies coming up in the next post!