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Published: September 24th 2005
This is in Kunming, the only thing in the city that isn't modern.
I present the dumb traveler award, I meet an old guy from Wisconsin on the Laos side of the Chinese border. It took 4.5 hours to travel 50km in the back of a cold rainy pickup truck, not a journey you would ever want to make twice. I exit the truck and he appears, my new best friend, we get stamped out of the Laos side and he asks me what we are going to have to pay to enter China, a little mistake that will take 3 days of bus travel over shite roads. Of all the countries in Asia which two can you think of that wouldn't issue American visas on arrival? Never seen a face get so white.
Only 2.5 Ks of travel to get my first taste of a famous Chinese toilet. Think of room, in it put nothing except 5 slots 8 inches wide by 40 inches long. Now squat and hold your breath. Oh and throw some poo on the wall for good measure.
30 hours to get to Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan, wow what a clean, modern city, eternal spring like weather too! The perfect opposite to ruffing it in
This painting is from Phoenix Song Mansion the home of a Manchurian warlord.
Laos. I spent a few days chilling, trip to Walmart (very sad I know), listened great music at a proper club. Is it a pick up line when English girls repeatedly tell you how much they've had to drink? If so they need more work than I do. I had some wonderful meals done pointing style, always a mystery. First taste of the dorms, ear plugs, sleeping mask, fat drunk Germans snoring, a Japanese guy with a wicked case of the munchies raining cracker crumbs above me.
In Dali, Yunnan I rode a bike around the seventh largest lake in China, very nice. I met 3 girls from Beijing who took to ordering the food, Tofu with Pork doesn't sound good, tastes great. Dali is a tourist town though never have I been asked for drugs so much, by sweet old ladies too. They coming running across the street at any foreigner real quiet and creepy like do I want 'smoky', 'ganja' or my favorite 'weedy'. How is this for smart? An English guy a kiwi and I 'accidentally' broke into Dali's major tourist attraction. The admission price was way too steep for the Three Pagodas so we rode
our bikes around the back to get a good angle for a photo. We climbed a wall, to a small tower and realized that we were in the very back of the park. Just then a security guard casually strolled around the corner and saw us. Trying not to look guilty we wandered around like tourists who had paid. Never have I been so happy the Chinese don't use trash cans because we found three tickets on the ground right around the corner from the guard.
Lijiang, BEAUTIFUL, UNESCO site, never before have you wanted to get lost and take hours finding your way out. Cobble stone streets, dozens and dozens of canals and small bridges. The village square features never ending dancing, signing and other cultural displays. At night the place felt magic, red lanterns and soft glowing lights in the water. And great food. The place is all roofs, so it seems from above. One night in a bar we got involved with the DJ and his version of living up the crowd, dancing with balloons? Come on.
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Another steep, dramatic valley that is planned for damning, the closest thing I can relate
Three Pagodas Reflection
A nice view that almost got us in quite a bit of trouble.
it to is the Black Canyon of the Gunision, very beautiful and sad that so many peoples homes will be underwater. The government has pretty much backed off on the place, huge landslides cover the road, they used to charge to enter the area but no more. I took off with Matt, a Kansas student, we wanted to clear the 35 Ks in one day to a popular guest house we were told about. Many goat herders dot the valley, the building styles revolve around central courtyards that give each home pleasant appeal Along the way were spray painted signs on rocks pointing the way as there were countless trails the locals used. In addition to guesthouse signs there were random bits of info, 'Delicious Chicken', 'Hot Rocks?' and 'Middle Tiger Leeping George'. The water volume and rapids were amazing, the photo with the bridge do it a bit of justice on the size of the river.
Lugu Lu- A gorgeous un-characteristically pollution free lake with several matriarchal controlled villages around it. The last such societies claimed in the world. We hired a driver to take us for a visit to one and had tea and a hot potato
Found a ticket so no sweat.
with a village lady born in 1895. Pretty cool. She had a wry sense of humor. The buildings in our guest house village were nearly flooded, the lake was swollen due to heavy rains. The first night there, with no one besides us in the village we hear loud music off in the distance, called in like sailors Matt, KC and I stumbled along wooden planks, half sunken rocks and crates and ended up in a bar on a peninsula so narrow it was almost an island. Once we walk in all we are surrounded by 20 Chinese girls, most speak English! If you have ever seen 'Animal House' it was like the scene when the white frat boys stumbling into the bar filled with black people. Music ripped from the record player, everyone stares and you feel like an idiot with a cheesy smile. It turned out to be a great, if odd night. They were keen on playing a dice game with four small shooters and a tea pot filled with typically horrible watered down rice whiskey. I've had some poor quality alcohol on this trip.
The lake bordered Yunnan and Sichaun, bring on the bus ride
In the morning the ladies stake a claim along empty walls just inside 'hutongs'(alleys) next to busy tourist streets.
to the food. Super spicy Meat on Stick, pork dumplings, rabbit heads, tripe, liver and kidney, they love it here.
In my first month of travel in China, Aug 16 to Sept 15 I covered four provinces, not exactly keeping up on my journals. I would love to hear from anyone who is following this blog, just drop a quick comment if you like. Thanks!
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