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Down and Out in Kunming

On tuesday, Yann and I decided to take a day trip to the Stone Forest in Shilin about 100km from Kunming. The Stone Forest is a national park basically consisting of a karst landscape, big stones jutting out of the ground, some up to 30m high. Of course, I only know this from the pamphlet because we never actually made it in.

I woke up at 6 a.m. so that we could catch and early bus, Yann got up about an hour later, after a little bit of whining. We took a public bus to the bus station, determined to follow our guidebook's advice : Do not get on a tourist bus, make sure you get a direct bus to Shilin. We walked up to the ticket booth, where we were pointed outside to the parking lot, where the ticketsellers were waiting for us. There was a small mini-bus, already half full with some old villagers and some businessmen. We spoke to the salesperson asking repeatedly if there were stops between Kunming and Shilin. No no, Kunming - Shilin, Kunming - Shilin we were told. We had found the direct bus, hooray! We waited half an hour for the bus to fill up, then we took off, we reached the next stop 30 seconds later, a parking lot, where we were shuffled into a new bus, with seats half the size of the first one. A feeling of impending doom came over us.

With only 40km left to Shilin, I was now feeling pretty confident about our bus choice, but then, we saw it in the distance: dozens and dozens of tour buses surrounding the mega jewelry "factory outlet" along what was an otherwise desolate highway. Our bus joined right in (how could we miss such a great opportunity)! We weren't the only ones in the bus to look mighty pissed. Of course this stupid scheme wouldn't work if people didn't then get off the bus and proceed to shop at the jewelry store! (To the credit of my fellow bus-mates, only one couple actually shopped, I gave them the evilest glances I could, but I think they might have been the only people who signed on to the tour bus knowing it was a tour bus) The salesperson who had earlier told us there would be no stops, now told us there would be only two short stops, 25 minutes each.

On our second stop, Yann and I refused to leave the bus, as did another Chinese woman. We were now at a temple, obviously newly constructed and surrounded by hundreds of vendors. The 25 minute stop turned into 1 hour and 25 minutes, mainly because the jewelry buying couple from hell thought it was a great site and the whole bus waited for them. Of course it would have been too easy to set a departure time, no, no actually the "come back to the bus when you are done visiting" policy proved highly effective.

By the time we arrived to Shilin almost 5 hours later, Yann had begun to feel ill. Being the nice guy that he is, Yann saved his vomit for the parking lot, I thought the bus floor was highly deservant. We sat in the parking lot for about an hour until we decided there was no way in hell Yann would be hiking through the park for the rest of the afternoon. We got on (a different) bus, that took less than 2 hours to get us to Kunming. Yann proceeded to lie in bed with the flu for the next 4 days, I joined in two days later. I blame the tour bus...

2 comments:

2par4 said...

Flu for 4 days. Eeeewwww.

Two questions. Why is my name on all of the cheese? And how did a sculpture of Willem Dafoe get mixed in with the Monk sculptures? Very odd.

We got our Christmas tree today. The house smells like shortbread and pine needles. Falalalalalalalala.

Y&E said...

Paul's is the Western food specialty store stocking everything from Betty Crocker cake mixes to blue cheese. What a treat to walk through there (of course every too expensive for meager budget).
Willem Dafoe, very very true.
Shortbreads and pine needles...we wish.