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China - Land of 1,303, 700.000 - a lot of people!!

Got 2 hours sleep in dodgy hotel & glad to leave it at 6.45am in a taxi for the 3km to the border. My taxi door was opened by a guy wanting me to change my Vietnamese dong for Chinese Yuan. Not being familar yet with the chinese money I oif course got ripped off. I think I got about $2 in chinese money for the $6 I gave in Vietnamese. Oh well!!!

Got in a line to depart Vietnam - the border opened at 7am Vietnamese time ( 8am for China as they are 1 hour ahead). Had a line for Vietnamese & a line for others. They allowed 6 Vietnamese through for 1 person from the others line!!! Eventually got through, put our bags through a scanner & walked over a bridge over the Red River into Hekou in China. We were immediately sent to a room to get our bags searched & asked a few questions. They were actually the nicest immigration officials I have met & smiled & offerered us a drink of water. That done & arrival cards fiulled out , we had our temperatures taken & health forms filled out& got stamped in. I asked the temperature taking guy to translate the hostel address into chinese for me to make my arrival in Kunming easier. No other westerners around. The whole process only took 45 minutes for both countries.

Turned left out of the immigration building, turned right and walked 100 metres up the street & the bus station is there on your left. We said" Kunming" & were pointed to a bus that was just departing at 9.45am, threw our bags on , handed over 136 Yan ( $12.50 AUS) & we were off. It wasn't full so we spread out. The bus hostess girl was sweet & spoke no English but came to us at every rest stop & did sign language to explain how long we were there for. We were the only westerners , but towards the end of the trip found a businessman who spoke english & he was really helpful. The trip is around 400 km but expected to take 12 hours

The scenery when we first left was stunning - huge towering mountains covered in rubber plantations, corn & pineapples. The mountains reminded me of the Rockies! It was a great double lane freeway & we went through several tunnels. Once out of the mountains we saw some stone house vilages with tiled roofs & upturned eaves. Corn fields were being harvested & there hundreds of corn cobs hanging off the roofs of houses to dry out.

Our first stop was a 5 minute toilet break & I braced myself for my first chinese toilet experience. It lived up to expectations & was one of the most disgusting things I have seen & smelt. It was an open drain you squat over & had 2 cubicles with no doors & a small wall between you & the next person & you could see your neighbour. Smell is unbelievable & I often smell "that" smell as I walk around the streets.

Next stop was a lunch stop -. Paid about $2 each & were given a bowl of rice & another plate with 6 different types of meats & veggies. Not very nice & only ate a little bit. Next toilet stop was worse than the first - no walls atall or doors & again each person next to the other just squats over the didgusting open drain. ugh!!!

Road most of the way was motorway, only a couple of hours on slow backroads. They don't toot as much as they do in Vietnam which was a huge relief to nath ! He hated all the tooting! Passed through some drab industrial towns & saw other strange towns full of apartments, that looked so empty & lifeless. They love hanging hundreds of flags from the roof of buildings like tent ropes down to the ground anchoring the building.

The great relief was that the 12 hour bus trip had been reduced to 8 hours ( Yay!!) with the improvement of the road. We arrived in Kunming at 5pm at this huge crazy bus station full of hundreds of buses. The nice man who spoke some english offerred to organise our taxi & told him where to take us. Easy!!! Only cost $2 to get to the Hump Hostel.

It is a great hostel & we checked into an 8 bed mixed dorm, which was roomy & had big built in pine bunks with lockable lockers under the beds & lots of room to put your stuff. Next to reception they have restaurant both indoor & outdoor at the rooftop balcony. It overlooks Jinba Square & 2 big ornate chinese arches & all these massive shopping centres, with lots of neon signs. There is a table tennis table, billiards, computer area, lounges & free WIFI. They help with travel info & booked my train tickets on to Dali & are very helpful with translations. Have a couple of washing machines , so did some washing. The room isn't airconed but the weather is very pleasant & has a brisk evening Autrumn feel with warm sunny days. Costs us 30 Yuan ( $5 AUS) each to stay here a night!! Great value.. One thing that is different is they don't supply toilet paper so you have to take your own!

Walked around the surrounding shopping district - so many huge department stores. We looked in one that had 4 levels of just sporting brand clothes! Clothing prices weren't that cheap but food is cheap.

Grabbed some KFC for dinner & then I had a neck & shoulder massage by a blind person in the street for $4. Went to a grocery store to buy some supplis & check it out. We were definately getting checked out & looked at & young children would run up & say hello & run away embaressed! Stocked upm on snacks & water cheaply

The other 6 people in our room are really nice & everyone swapped stories about where they have been & where they are going!

Things we have noticed about China:

  • People are friendly * They spit a lot * They smoke a lot * Traffic not as crazy as Vietnam & don't toot as much * Lots of people ride electric motorbikes & bicycles * They don't wear helmets * They have police sitting in blue & white striped lookouts at many intersections * Have seen a couple of lines of military looking people doing special jogging throufgh the streets
  • Dress is very western * Some nasty toilet smells * They push into lines & have a different set of social etiquette rules to us in the west - eg letting people off before you hop on, lining up properly, not pushing & shoving etc

Bus going through a tunnel

Bus going through a tunnel


Yicky lunch at a rest stop

Yicky lunch at a rest stop


Near the end of the mountains

Near the end of the mountains


Our big coach

Our big coach


Passed several decorated cars

Passed several decorated cars


Inside our bus

Inside our bus


Rooftop balcony

Rooftop balcony


Arches in Jinba Square

Arches in Jinba Square


From rooftop balcony of the Hup Hostelm

From rooftop balcony of the Hup Hostelm


Domed ceiling in shopping centre

Domed ceiling in shopping centre


Shopping Area Kunming

Shopping Area Kunming


The Hump Hostel

The Hump Hostel


Hump Hostel Entrance

Hump Hostel Entrance

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in China

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