Yunnan & Guandong China
Kumming to Shangri La and down to Jinghong also Guangzhou to guillin Longshen and onto Kumming
you will love Yunnan, In kumming stay at “the Hump” although now cloudland is nicest place for backpackers if you get the bus from the vietnamese border ie Lao Cai (Sapa) then it will drop you on Beijing Luu “the Hump” is about 1 km up the rd on Beijing Lu on left but taxis are cheap. If you fly in then take 98 to Beijing Lu also as LP says Camelia Hotel on way. I stayed Spring city hotel on Dong Fen West rd which is just in front of the Muslim area and the Old Market graet for DVD’s of latest films etc $0.60c each also lots of tourist “Tat,” Cd’s and also do the schilling stone forest sth of Kumming [I sadly missed it] also see the monastry [Yuantong ] is a must just Nth of Kumming on Beijing Lu till Yuantong Jic, turn left and its on rt. great vege restaurant opposite with tofu dishes that taste just like meat Ha! Ha! The bus will take you to Dali from Kumming , despite what is written about the road being under construction road was OK when I went and although yet to be tarmac’d was solid and pretty smooth.
At Dali bus station watch out for the tourist touts who will take you to GH and charge them for your stay. leave bus station through front and bus stop this side of rd on left, take the number 4 to Dali old town (place1 Yuan note in the bus box.) when you see the gate and the city walls in front of you then get off bus as it turns left. on right friends Inn [very nice people ] and opposite at side of alley across rd “Le Juan” great rooms for 30-40 Yuan for double and very clean with ensuite and sat TV (watch Da Shan teach you Chinese) the girls here are so sweet and helpful. There is no sign for the Hotel in English. To see Dali lake trip walk through town to X rds then catch bus, 1/2 Yuan to dock then day trip on boat. It is also good to get a fishing trip with the Cormorants here. The cable car advertises for 84Yuan return but all the GH’s will get you the ret ticket for 50Yuan. bus to Lijian again outside bus station take number 11 or 3 or 1 this time cross rd head Nth on bus about 2 km you will see theatre on rt (Sun and dance of Yi people great choreography if a bit of a Kitsch plot) and get off here walk past theatre to waterwheel turn rt and walk down to old town sq I stayed Inn on the Square, bargain for all rooms ie 30Yuan.eat at Prague Café great for meeting people and also try the green curry, Also the GH’s will have have great free map for trek on Tiger leaping gorge go through park and up Red dragon mtn on cable care fantastic views 5,000m high (cable car goes up 4,500m) and although expensive a must, then on to gorge take path from that side and walk over the gorge down to Chau Tau [easiest way to do it ] then bus from there to Shangri La (Xongdian) takes around 3hrs. Here is great monastery, to reach it take no 3 bus direct [get on main rd, also stay old town again. from here you get the bus direct to Lhasa.6,7 hrs by road. I missed out on Lugi lake, (where the Nushe women live,) try and get to that also.
I flew from Dali to Jinghong, but whether you arrive by bus or fly ask to be dropped off at Mei Meis Café, Jingde Rd ask for Orchid and also opposite there is a similar café where you can arrange trips amongst the ethnic minorities in this area also the boat from here to Thailand direct, Chang Sien, or the bus to Menghla and Mohan (border Boten in Laos) Lao visa is on arrival at Boten and from here you can get a bus direct to Oudamasai/ Non khiaw (boat to Mong Noi) or bus direct to Luam Namtha and Muan Sing. The bus station is about 500m past border café and Bank.the bus should cost $1 between the borders about 2km.
Please note that there is now a Chinese sleeper bus direct from Kumming and Jinghong to Luam Namtha and Luam Phrabang but if you want to go to Mong Noi get off at the junction Nam Bak and take the pick up to Nong Khiaw
Hong Kong Guangzhou Guillin and Longshen
Last time I flew to HK and took bus A21 to Chungking Mansions Kowloon , cheapest dorms there were 60HK$’s at travellers rest as you enter building first lifts on left and top floor It’s a short walk to bus station Kowloon and for $60HK is bus to Guangzhou
Bangkok to Guangzhou and Kumming
so cheap taxi ride to BKK airport 230 baht at 4am and flight going to Hong KongwithAirAsia$50 US took A21 bus to Nathan rd and Chungking Mansions as recommended and guy at entrance asked if I wanted cheap Hotel $20 I thought he meant $20HK Ha! Ha! but after showing me the room he was indignant when I suggested $20 HK and he told me $120 but it was nice ensuite double bed anyway he said if you want cheap stay travellers rest on16th floor which I did at $60 HK for dorm bed = around 6pounds
anyway eating in Homg Kong is tres expensive, so first night 29 HK$ Macdonalds and next night pizza hut for $38 6″ pizza with mushroom soup two small pieces of garlic bread and large pepsi n great stuff so booked 5pm bus to mainland china and Guangzhou for $70 Hk
form Guangzhou I took the overnight bus to Yangshou, around 520am looking out of the window I was met by the karsts looming in the darkness.
I left the bus terminus at 530 and offered 40 Yuan to my hostel which at 5 am was a waste of effort but he kept haggling down to 5 yuan when finally after only 100 m there was my Hostel on the left and a massive illuminated M for Macdonalds sign lighting the whole sky and reflected in the lake outside the restaurant.
I was never so happy to see that big Mac sign ad went in for a 20 yuan breakfast bun eg sausage and hash brown + three free coffee refils and sat around till 8am and checked into my hostel at 60 yuan a night -10 yuan as I am now a member of the eternal Youth Hostels association globally.
so first day I went to river and joined a group of young Chinese tourists on a bamboo raft for a 1 hr trip down the river my share was 20 yuan so far so good, next day I hired a mountain bike and biked 5 miles out of town on the main highway and then back into town and out on the small road to moon village a fe wkms away after 12 i was getting tired of the bike riding so sat people watching on west street as the crowds of Chinese and foreign tourists wandered aimlessly up and down spending their hard earned yuan on overpriced tourist tat.
so next day checked out and took 15 Yuan bus to Guillin which is again one of these standard Chinese cities that the govt build to same same plan.
although I met many tourists here who are victims of pickpockets etc etc so if you come to Guillin the hang onto your money tightly.
I took day trip to Longshen here are the long hair people and the women let their hair grow long we were entertained by singing an dancing at the theatre and they wanted to show the marital customs. first they dress me and others up in local garb then we have to chose our bride by stepping lightly on her foot, if she loves you she pinches your bum hard and I can tell you here LOve Hurts Ha! Ha! so now you give her a wedding gift . Being a cheapskate I gave my bride a cheap 2o Yuan bracelet and I got an cheap 2 yuan money pouch with zip in return. who can put a price on love so now she sings a love melody to you and you have to sing one in return. I sang “Do not forsake me, Oh my darling on this our wedding day” from High Noon and I’m sure it was apt
finally we all drink rice alcohol and the marriage ceremony is over but it is only marriage if you return at night to consummate it. The bus driver asked if I wanted to stay overnight but I declined all that hair would get in the way, (they grow it to 5 ft and wrap it around their heads and wash it in rice alcohol, get drunk just being with the woman lol.)
so that over I had to decide the awkward journey to Kaille and other ethnic minorities or go direct to kumming and do shilling forest so with the risk of more unfavourable wedlock I decided to take the sleeper train this evening to kumming.at 281 yuan =28 Pounds UK or same same euros. I am looking forward to spending less in Laos as fr e China with the prices doubled for public holiday and also the yuan revalued from 8.50 yuan =$1 to 6.50 Yuan =$1 and also pound losing 30% of it’s value it is very expensive here so looking forward to
in Kunming and how sad when I was here 4 yrs ago the old Muslim quarter was being demolished but I thought hey would at least leave the flower market and the shops for the western tat sellers but NO! Chinese mentality knows only modern buildings so all these 500 yr old dwellings are now destroyed forever to make way for ultra modern high rise that Chinese love so much. All their cities are like this as if stamped out of one architect .
so I went across to station in Yangshou onto the overnight sleeper middle bunk hard class but very comfortable and had a reasonable nights sleep and stopped at shilling which is the forest of stones so took couple of photos from train and then arrived at Hostel inclouds (cloudland)
From here one can take the overnight sleeper direct to Oudamsai in laos vOA but ensure you have correct amount in $’s cash as they will rip you off on exchange rates at border ie $35 and after 4pm $2 extra