Anthony's Interesting Times 2004 travel blog

Big incense to make up for little cars - Chinese tourists do...

Yi girls in Shilin Stone Forest

Shilin Stone forest - the tamer side

The wilder side of Shilin

Shilin

Shilin up close

Lotus Peak, Shilin

Lotus Peak from the other side

My pal Susanna


The next day Susanna and I bussed to Kunming, ten hours or so of potholed roads. It was quite a shock being back in a big manic Chinese City again. We booked in this hotel near the Train Station for an early start the next day and had a humorous evening of being pestered on the phone and at the door by prostitutes. I forgot that happened in mid-range hotels, it doesn't in hostels.

The next day we went to catch a train only to find out the fast train no longer existed. This meant I would only have two/three hours in Shilin, less of an issue for Susanne, who was staying there anyway. So we got a bus instead, what was essentially a tour. Pretty soon I was cursing this as a mistake, but in the end it was quite amusing, educational, and even fun.

What was meant to be two hours to Shilin took five hours. The first two stops were shops -the Chinese love shopping - and then a Buddhist theme park, actually a temple that would have been OK if it hadn't been tranformed into a rather awful tourist attraction. The Buddhists amongst you would have been upset, I tell you.

Probably the best bit was lunch. Our entire bus ate together, for about 70p each, we shared dozens of different platefuls of food, a great way to eat a variety of foods, and very friendly and social, etc.

Notwithstanding the bonding engendered by shopping and eating together though, we legged it away from them (much to their concern) as soon as we got to Shilin. Two hours there wasn't enough though, and I did wish I had done the same as Susanna, and stayed, but c'est la vie. It is an amazing place, one half like an enormous rockery, or extremely attractive garden or golf-course; and half a wild three-dimensional maze that we just wandered around in, exploring, getting lost and taking photoes.

And then goodbye to Susanna. Sad to part, as she was good to be with, and it had seemed like ages. It is amazing how strong even quite short-lived friendships become when travelling.

On the way back we were pulled over by the Police for some reason, and when we got back to Kunming, for some (perhaps associated) reason the bus went to what was like a very crowded hospital (with the biggest traditional chinese medicine shop I have seen yet, and I have seen hundreds now) and everyone went and sat in one of many waiting room. No-one could explain to me why, and I was conscious of a train to catch, so I legged it. Let's hope I am not spreading SARS across the country as I go.



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