After that marathon truck of a post this one will be pretty short and sweet.
After the full day at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Mia and I grabbed the night train from Lijiang to Kunming, the capital city of the Yunnan Province. The only notable happening of the night train is that in China, the sleeper cars don’t have doors. Yup. You’re just wide open to the public. Great fun. And of course they wake you up with the local pop tunes at 6AM. Just fantastic.
As soon as we arrived at our hostel, my body collapsed and I became a little ill. Fortunately, we had nothing to do that day as Kunming is one of the least interesting cities on the planet. Known mostly as a former exile colony, it now is just a booming metropolis with not much cultural flair. As I regained my strength in the afternoon, we walked around town and enjoyed the well-curated and absurdly well translated Yunnan Provincial Museum and were also terrified by the local Bird and Flower Market. We finished off our afternoon in our usual fashion. Playing a match of gin, then grabbing dinner.
Kunming was really just a staging ground for a flight back to Hong Kong and the Shilin Stone Forest. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, then you might remember Halong Bay in Vietnam where the rocks came straight up out of the water in giant pillars. That’s what the Shilin Stone Forest is like, except taller, thinner, and no water so it really does look like a stone forest.
Just a brief 2 hour bus ride away from Kunming (plus the 45 min taxi ride to the bus station), you are forced to either buy a tour bus pass or walk the 2 km from the ticket booth to the actual forest. We were stubborn and chose to walk. It was definitely worth the wait as you enter the surreal landscape. These rocks just shoot straight up and we dove right on in, completely getting lost in the maze of rocks. We were worried we were going to be surrounded by Chinese tourists the whole time, but about 45 mintues in, we were worried we would never find our way out! It truly is a maze of oddly beautiful views and interesting rock formations. We spent the better part of an afternoon there before we were forced to leave to catch our flight to Hong Kong from the stylish new Kunming airport. That’s it. An uneventful couple of days.
I must have taken over 200 pictures at Shilin, but I quickly realized, they all look the same. It’s so weird that when you are there, everything seems like a new discovery, but on film, it really doesn’t capture any sense of uniqueness.