A detailed account on my journey to China and Tibet during the period Sep - Nov 2002. Part 1 talks about Yunnan Province in China.Other parts: Yunnan province (China):   Tibet:     East coast China .
Published: Nov 2002
This travelogue was kindly typed from Stas' original notes in the notebook and slightly edited by Ada Ho.
travel, Chinese, Mandarin, hotel, hostel, Kunming, Lijiang, train, bus, visa extension, hike, PSB office.
Flight: Singapore - Bangkok - Kunming
Arrived Kunming at 15:00, didn't have small money to get on the bus which gives no change. Took a cab into the city for 10Y. Left to check the city.
Standard town with many shops, smog level is ok. Went to the birds and plants market, proceeded to the university and the zoo. The local zoo is empty and animals are held in bad conditions. People on the streets play badminton, dance folk dances and practice Tai Chi. I've checked into Camellia Hotel, paid for 2 nights, 30Y/night for a bed in the dorm room. 2 other people were there already but I didn't know who. Somebody knocks on the door and asks me whether I speak Hebrew. "We celebrate Rosh ha Shana, do you come?"
I had no clue it was Rosh ha Shana that night, but Israelis have found me and I ate apple with honey, rimon (pomegranate) and even hala (white bread). It was fun, four other Israelis were there.
In the evening when I got to my room I've learned that 2 others in the room were Israeli girls. That's how I started to learn that Israelis are the prevailing tourists in China. Dutch counting on the second place.
With one of the guys from the last night's party we went to Daguan Hongyan (grand view park), which was quite boring. We took the motor boat on the Lake Diqu(1) and then climbed up the mountain Xi(1) Shan(1) to see some temples, from there returned to the city. I decided to leave Kunming this night, so I went to the train station and bought a sleeper train to Dali. On the way back to the hotel I had a good 1h Chinese traditional massage for only 20Y.
In the hotel they didn't want to refund my night's money, since it was late in the evening, but I decided that staying in Kunming for one more night doesn't worth 30Y.
The train was very nice. I've got a hard sleeper middle berth for 86Y. We left at 22:30 and arrived the next day at 06:20.
From the train station I took bus 8 to the old Dali for 1.5Y and in 20 minutes I was there. I've checked into Jim's Guesthouse on Bo Ai Lu, which was very cosy and I've stayed there in the dorm room all alone for 3 nights. That day it was raining in the morning so I was wandering around the city under the rain. Old Dali is not very touristy and nice. I liked it. There were a few dozens of cafes serving local and western food. That's where you meet other fellow travellers. One note is that the meals are huge. Usually it's hard to finish one portion.
I've found Dr. He on Bo Ai Lu, and he was taking care of my tired knees for the next three days, massaging in some herbs mixture. He didn't speak any of English, but the results were great.
In the afternoon I've started to climb to Zho(1) Nghe(2) Si(4) mountain, where you can get also by taking a chair lift or a horse. I've chosen to climb, which was very hard and I did it in 2 hours. Also LP says that it's very dangerous to walk alone there and I had my knife ready and luckily nobody bothered me. When I got to the top, I've asked how far is to go to the Gauhong Si and was told 4 hours. On the other hand the sign was saying 4 km. I decided to try to get there fast, though it was already 16:30. The way was absolutely flat and through stunning nature of mountains and waterfalls. On the way I met a Chinese girl (who spoke English), who told me that the chair on the other side is closing at 19:00, so I had 2.5 hours to cover 4 hours distance. I've speeded up, running through some areas, having no clue where is the end, each turn was followed by another turn and a waterfall. I even had no time to stop and enjoy the views. But I was stopping to eat the mulberry on the way, which was very refreshing. The last half an hour I was literally running and guess what? I've got to the chair at 19:00. Though I've learned that it was closed at 18:00, and I had to go all the way down on foot. The way down was easier than the way up and I've got down exactly at 20:00 when the sun had set down and it was a complete darkness. I had a flash light but I didn't want to stay in the mountains that night! ;)
So this was a very strenuous half a day and I came back to Dali by local bus, very tired, around 21:00.
I had a dinner at Cafe de Jack where I met 2 French girls and we have shared our travel experiences.
This day I went to Xizhou village which is on the Erhai Hu (lake), and spent half a day walking through the village, which was nice. Then I returned to Dali and wandered around the city again. At the eve I've ended up in the same restaurant where I've met a Dutch couple who has told me a lot about Holland. I've convinced them to take a tour to Yi minorities market the next day.
This day was spent in the Jim's GH tour (85Y). First half a day at the market which happens every 10 days, where everything was sold: pigs, horses, yaks, cows, vegetables, fruit, clothes, etc. Many sellers are dressed in their national clothes. After the market we had a lunch with many dishes, quite spicy (hot) and after that we visited a village high in the mountains with nice views around i A short trek through the mountains has concluded the tour.
I hate organised trips, but I need to force myself not to have the freedom to walk for 12 hours a day, so the trip was doing its job. Of course I didn't expect anything from this tour. The people on the tour (about 20 folks) were very nice, and we shared our local experiences in China.
As I've exhausted things to do in Dali I've continued to Lijiang the next day.
I took the morning luxury bus to Lijiang 3h/50Y. Then arrived to the old Lijiang which was crowded with Chinese tourists. Found the place suggested by the Dutch couple: Old Town Guest House at the beginning of the Xin Hua street (just go straight if you face the wheel, to its right). The bed in dorm room is 15Y, clean toilets, hot water and showers. Very cosy place and quiet. Again 2 out 3 nights I was alone in the dorm room.
After having a lunch I went to Heilongtan Gongyuan (Black Dragon Pool Park) (20Y) which was crowded with Chinese tourists which have overrun the city and decided to climb right away to the Elephant Hill, which again suggested to have at least 4 people to walk with. I had my knife open this time, but nothing has happened, though once I saw a suspicious person. The hill has great views of Lijiang and definitely worth the climb when I've got down it was late and the Dragon Park I skipped first was empty of tourists and very nice. The water is absolutely clear, lots of birds, flowers and it was nice.
In the evening I was sitting at the Sakura Cafe where I've met several couples: German, American, Israeli (of course!) and even a couple of elder Russians who immigrated to Israel 30 years ago. So I could talk English, Hebrew and Russian at the same time.
I woke up late and departed to the Baisha Village in the north. The village is an emerging tourist trap, therefore after finding the kind Dr. Ho who stocked me with herbs against the cold and diarrhoea (you pay as much as you/want) I've decided to climb the nearby mountains, to do something useful and prepare myself to the upcoming hard treks. Once up on the mountain I've seen that I can actually walk through the mountains back to Lijiang. The nature was great and views were stunning. The skies weren't very clear, so far mountains very hardly seen, but it was still very beautiful. I've even picked some mushrooms on the way.
Eventually I've got down to the Longsha Village and took a car back to Lijiang. When I got back I went to check the Ali-Baba Cafe which is outside the old Lijiang on the Mao Square. There I had a great Naxi sandwich and Naxi soup, and that's where I've met Young, who lives in Hong Kong and helps the Ali-Baba Cafe to provide useful information about trekking in the area. He told me that he leaves on exploring trek on Sa morning and I've asked if I can join him. Originally I was planning to go to the Tiger Leaping trek and go all the way to Haba and then to Zhong Diqu on foot (about 4 days), but since he was planning to investigate a new uncharted trek, I've decided to join him.
The evening I've spent wandering around the city and had a good massage for 48Y. At night I've spent at the Sakura Cafe with 4 Israelis, Russians and one British girl who lives in Hong Kong.
This day I was sick, but still wandered about the old city, exchanged a few traveller checks. Tried to extend my visa but the PSB office was closed. In the eve I went to the Naxi music concert, yet another tourist trap, where the guy spoke about Naxi music for 3/4 of the concert time in Mandarin with short translations to English.
This day I ate the lunch and dinner at Ma Ma Fu Cafe where the food was very good, though I didn't meet anybody.