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World Heritage Site - Stone Forest

Woke Nath up at 9,30am, everyone sleeps in so late at hostels as they go to bed so late. You creep around in the morning trying to be as quiet as possible & not turn the lights on

Going to visit the Stone Forest at Shilin, about 120km away & it was too expensive on a minibus organised by the hostel so decided we would do it by public bus. Got the directions to the bus station & then got the staff to write a few things in chinese for me: I want to go to Shilin I want to go to Lunan I want to go to Kunming The hostel also has bits of paper saying Train Station, Bus Station & Airport translated into chinese4.

Without these few translations it would have been VERY difficult to go anywhere!!

Caught the number 3 bus to the Train Station & found the short distance bus station ( different froim the long distance bus station we arrived at yesterday .... but close by) Found Building B where we had to buy the tickets for 27 Yuan ( about $4.50 aech one way). Walked out where all the buses were ( mayne about 15) with nothing on them that we could ever identify was ours!! Asked several people & kept getting pointed to different buses. Got on one bus & thought I would check with someone on the bus by showing them my ticket & they pointed for me to get off! Found a couple with limited english going where we were so we followed them. Was an hour and a half ride & got off at Shilin & there was hundreds of chinese tourists. I guess it was Saturday as well as being their National Holiday week.

Bought our entrance tickets for the exhorbitant price of 140 Yuan for me $25 & student price of 100 Yuan $20 for Nath. Glad I thought to bring his student card!!! There were lots of guides dressed in traditional local dress that no -one wears anymore. Groups of chinese followed the guides with their little flags & once inside we had to escape the crowds which was easier once you got away from the entrance area where most of them stayed. The chinese are used to being in these sorts of crowds but we weren't!

The Stone Forest is a limestone area worn into 30 metre high rocks of all shapes. It is an absolute maze to explore with narrow trails squeezing between rocks, going through caves, onto peaks & then down hundreds of steps into cool shady narrow valleys & then up hundreds more steps. It was such a unique place & fun to explore, never knowing whay was around the next corner & always a choice of trails - would I go left, right, up or down??? Just my kind of place. We explored for a couple of hours & didn't see it all.

Had read in Lonely Planet that it was worth visiting the nearby village of Lunan that had a market on Saturdays & was only 10 km away. Back to the bus staion we hopped off from, but only buses to & from Kunming use that station. Off we wandered asking people every 50 metres - " Bus to Lunan & showing them the translation" They would point up the road - nothing too explicit or helpful & after going up the road, around the corner & over the road we boarded a bus to Lunan... we hoped!! No westerners on board & lots of people looking at us. Cost 1 yan each ( about 20c).

The bus left when it was full & we pulled into a very drab uninteresting small town & not a stoned village as we expected. We looked down a couple of streets & decided to get a bus out of there. They had buses direct to Kunming so bought tickets & asked when the next bus was . We were told 4pm but it actually left at 3.30pm - I guess time depends on when it is full!!

Back to Kunming & the bus pulls up in the middle of a part of town we didn't know & the driver told everyone to get off. I showed my "train station" translation to him ( as that was beside where we had left from) He gave a hand motion that we thought meant to sit down but we soon realized by his face that it didn't mean that & we were to get off the bus. The hand signal for" come" is the same as Cambodia & can look like our "sit" Again showed him my train station piece of paper & he pointed up the street, so we started walking. Thirty minutes later still no train station but we were getting closer to the part of town we were staying in. Now nearly dark so we got a cab to drive us the rest of the way home.

Back at the hostel got to have a chat & say goodbye to the Manchester guy from England who was off to Vietnam after a month in China Didn't feel like any local food & bought myself a pomelo to eat as I felt like fruit but couldn't open it so ended up giving it to a begging lady. Walked around the big square with the arches next to our hostel, that was full of chinese people , with balloons & just wandering around. Lots of restuarants full of people eating but just wasn't in the mood for it so had M&M's for dinner. Nath had a burger at the hostel. I decided to go & read while Nath was on the computer. Some new people had arrived in the dorm so after introductions we got talking & they ( Gil & Maria from Israel) invited me out to the cafe to keep talking & have a drink. They are off to Lijiang tomorrow & asked if we wanted to join them but we are going to Dali before Lijiang Was very interesting talking & finding out more about their Jewish beliefs. Another girl asked to join us - Adina from South Africa & we talked till about 11pm. They then decided to go out to a club & invited me to join them .Declined as way past my bedtime! Made my way back to bed again & got talking to the London couple in our room again & they were also just on their way out. Made it to bed by midnight. It is very social staying at a backpackers & great meeting so many people

Kunming Train Station

Kunming Train Station


Building "B" to buy tickets

Building "B" to buy tickets


Bus to Shilin - but which one???

Bus to Shilin - but which one???


The couple we stalked who spoke English

The couple we stalked who spoke English


Arrived at Shilin

Arrived at Shilin


The Stone Forest

The Stone Forest


So many people!!!

So many people!!!


Exploring

Exploring


Trying to escape the crowds

Trying to escape the crowds


Ducking under arches

Ducking under arches


Squeezy places

Squeezy places


The " elephant" rock

The " elephant" rock


Viewing Platform

Viewing Platform


View from platform

View from platform


Maze of paths

Maze of paths


From platform

From platform


Paths

Paths


Resting on an uphill

Resting on an uphill


Back down again

Back down again


Up to the top again

Up to the top again


Handsome Nath

Handsome Nath


Nath

Nath


Now up!

Now up!


Nath & I

Nath & I


Looking down

Looking down


Stairs

Stairs


Up the top again

Up the top again


Guides in traditional dress

Guides in traditional dress


Exiting the park

Exiting the park


Entrance lake

Entrance lake


Big rocks

Big rocks


Flowers & Flags

Flowers & Flags


Chinese flag

Chinese flag


All the flower displays are hundreds of indiv

All the flower displays are hundreds of indiv


Bus to Lunan

Bus to Lunan


From the back of the bus

From the back of the bus

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in China

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