Blogging from Kunming China

Posted in China at 11:57 am by Administrator

Email from TC – Nov 22, 2009

We are currently sitting in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan. We are couchsurfing in town with a cool french guy and waiting for our vietnam visa to come back. The cruise through the Yunnan province has been pretty cool and a huge change from the rest of teh trip. We’re on a real tourist route at the moment and its interesting to see lots of the same people in town after town. We have stayed in Lijiang and Dali and now Kunming. We also did a quick hike up the Tiger Leaping gorge. We haven’t done much riding for a bit and have been dealing with the chinese bus system which is pretty easy to do, even with the bikes.
Lijiang and Dali were interesting laces. very touristy. That means that every second shop sells dried mushrooms or bad hats and the others sell crap jewlery and that you have to fight your way through crowds of chinese tourists all wearing matching hats and following a flag toting guide. Also the cities seem to be polished replicas of there former glory. Nothing seems real in china. They always seem to knock down the old stuff and then build a shiney, tourist friendly replica in its place. There did seem to be some soul left in Dali but the best Yunnan experience so far was the hike through the small villages on teh Tiger Leaping gorge. Even if the weather was crap the view was great and the locals were so friendly that we really wished that we’d planned for a longer stay there and didn’t run the 24 km in 6 hours and then hitch back to Lijiang for the night. Its 78 km from Lijiang to the gorge. You start at the town of Qitou (pronounced cheetau) and hike up and allong the trail. At the traditional halfway point, tina’s, which is the end of the first day, we had to hire a mini van to take us back to the start point. When we go there they tried the age old scam of telling us that all the buses back to lijiang were finished for the day but that they could take us for a huge fee. I politely told them to get stuffed and that I’d rather hitch than pay that and within 15 minutes along came a bus to lijiang and we were fine. The hostel tha twe stayed in in Dali was a great place run by an Aussie bloke that married a chinese girl. Very chilled out with plenty to do and coopers beer in the fridge. Teh strange thing for me and the exciting thing for Nic was the number of french speakers there at once. There were more than half the people there that spoke french as a first language and so I had a fair bit of practice to try to get a gist of the conversations. It was cool though and we ended up at a gig in a local bar where the headliner was a Quebecois and had a top night that lead to a bit of a hangover and so an extra day of staying in Dali.
One thing about China is how cheap the food and accommodation is. If a meal for 4 costs over $10 AUD then you are at a really posh place and if you pay more than $20 for a NICE hotel room then you are getting riped off. The bus transport is cheap around and someone on a budget could survive here for quite a while.
Anyway we’ll be here a few more days before heading down to the vietnam border and then either staying in the hill town of Sapa for a day or so or just going straight into Hanoi. Then a quick trip to Ha Long bay and then homeward bound.



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