Edit Blog Post
Published: March 6th 2009
5 Arch Bridge, Black Dragon Pool
After feeling anxious about our upcoming trip, sat writing our blog in Hanoi, it turns out that this border crossing couldn't have been any smoother! (Well, it went pretty well considering we didn't have anyone to hold our hands this time!)
On finishing our blog we went for some dinner and then headed for the overnight train to Lao Cai where we were due to arrive at 6am the following morning. Our cabin was quite luxurious compared to previous overnight trains, and amazingly, we arrived early. We found ourselves sitting on the train platform at 5.30am with time to kill.
3rd March 2009
By 7am we were in the queue to leave Vietnam and 10 minutes later we were crossing the bridge and heading for the China side...Daniel strolled quickly through customs but 10 minutes later Hayley was still waiting for the customs officer to be convinced that her passport hadn't been forged...She was finally let through and we stumbled almost instantly upon the bus we needed and were on our way to Kunming feeling slightly dazed and very relieved!
11 hours later - and a lunch of that well known classic, fox - we arrived in the city of
Lao Cai train station at sunrise.
Kunming. Our time on the bus passed surprisingly quickly and this was in no small part down to the amazing scenery that was passing us by. At one point we were climbing a mountain road, looking up at cloud covered mountain tops and looking down at white water rapids; shortly after we were in the clouds with barely 5 metres visibility. All the while driving only 5 metres from a sheer drop. It was actually quite worrying!
It's hard to believe the size of this country; we aren't exaggerating when we say that at least 4 hours of our journey was like this. The rest of the hours were made up of endless crop fields, rice fields, and amazing colours of yellow, brown and every possible shade of green.
When we finally arrived we managed in our broken Chinese to get a motorbike each to our youth hostel and were safely tucked up in our bunk beds by 9pm!
Our first impressions of South West China - at least the Yunnan Province - were very, very good.
4th March 2009
It had been a 25 hour trek into China so we decided that today we would have a day
Daniel 'enjoying' his dinner
of relaxing and organising our next couple of days. We do this every so often and despite taking the opportunity to take it easy, it also provides some elemant of 'normality' to what is usually a very surreal lifestyle. Task one: laundry. We aren't going to divulge the last time we had got round to doing some of this, we will only say that it wasn't recent...task two: shopping for supplies. In Walmart. We avoided the dried yak meat and headed for the galaxy chocolate!
After some further chilling we headed out for dinner. We ended up in a restaurant which we had chosen as the menu had pictures which was a slight improvement on the chinese only alternatives. We chose a dish each and went for those that had some resemblance to what you might find at your local takeaway. Daniel thought he had ordered shredded chilli beef. The portion was small and after we both munched through one 'piece' each we commented that there wasn't much meat. On further inspection (and rotation) we were not eating shredded chilli beef...what had we just eaten?.....
It was not good. And what a con; there's
Us on 5-Arch Bridge, in our shiny new fleeces!
no meat on them. (Of course we finished them!! It was all we'd ordered!) Needless to say we didn't eat much more that night and nervously awaited the potential consequences...
5th March 2009
Another day of travel. Our first main stop in China was to be Lijiang - the gateway to Tiger Leaping Gorge. Our bus left at 9.30am and arrived in Lijiang, after another picturesque journey, at 6.30pm. We were due to stay at Mama's guesthouse and she swiftly came to pick us up. Which was a god send as this city is broken up into the old town and the new town and is a maze! Mama's GH is in the old town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight in its entirety. It is an 800 year old cobbled street town, sat in the shadows of mountains in every direction; it is fairy tale old China and can give you goosebumps simply walking around. It's very easy to get lost among the small, winding, intertwining streets - and that's exactly what we did - but not before eating Mamas Cuisine...from what we can decipher (again down to our broken English/Mandarin conversation) we were enjoying the tastes
Phoenix Temple in blossom
of...turtle. Welcome to China!
6th March 2009
One of the first things we noticed on arrival in Lijiang (and people in England will be delighted to read this) is that it is beyond cold. Sitting at 2400 metres, it is freezing here. To compensate for this dramatic change in temperature, our shorts went to the bottom of our rucksacks and our t-shirts have been replaced by new fleeces! We walked up through the gorgeous old town north towards the must-see Black Dragon Pool. Looking out over the vast exspanse of water (said to be guarded by nine dragons) you are faced with the 5-arch bridge sat next to a small temple set in front of snow-capped mountains. Unfortunately, the snow capped mountains were shrouded in cloud, but as we are here for early spring, we had trees full of pink blossom to take its place. Beautiful. On leaving this wondrous sight, and with our temperatures dropping, we stopped off for some coffee and cake before hiking up Lion Hill to Wangu Lou which gave great views out over the city.
We headed back to our guesthouse for some well-earned hot showers and then strolled out through the old streets,
through the red lanterns, criss-crossing the small arch bridges and enjoying the view of the locals dancing around blazing fires. We like it here!
Tomorrow we head for something we've been excited for since booking this trip. A two day trek which will be recorded in great detail in our next blog!
Hope everyone's ok and not as cold as us! That's karma!
D and H
Tot: 0.545s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 13; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0317s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb