A Travellerspoint blog

Ewok Spotting in Yunnan

The Great Chinese Adventure Continues.....

semi-overcast 9 °C

G'day everyone!
We are well and truly into our trip now, and China continues to amaze, baffle, and impress. I am writing from the World Heritage listed old town of Lijiang in northern Yunnan province. We also visited Dali, another old walled town in Yunnan. UNESCO acreditted Lijiang with a World Heritage Listing in 1997, but unfortunately the Chinese version of preservation and good tourism involves turning a place into a theme park. A bit tough to feel like you're on an epic adventure when every shop in town sells either t-shirts, combs, fireworks, burnt cds or any of the other tacky cliche crap. Fortunately, if you can see past that stuff or find some hidden alleyways it can feel a bit more like the real thing. The towns themselves are at the base of some pretty speccy mountains, which always impress.

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Old laidies with their baskets in Lijiang

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A gate in Dali's Old Town. Awarded photo count: 1-1 Will v. Kempton.

We've also been spotting a few Ewoks here.

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Still on the lookout for a Thommo sized Ewok outfit.

The locals call this area of Yunnan the end of the Himalayas, and we have been doing alot of walking, climbing and riding up some shmassive mountains. We met a local guy, Richard (Dick), several days ago while eating breakfast who wanted to take us up the mountain to 5000m. Dick turned out to be full of crap, but we are pretty certain that we got beyond 4000m.

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This is Richard pointing to Snow Mountain, which initially he had told us we were climbing. At this stage, apparently we were at the same altitude as Everest base camp. Perhaps not, Dick?

We took a shabby little van to a village half way up the mountain, then got on pack horses to about 3200m, and then walked for a bloody long way into and above the snowline for some pretty impressive vistas.

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Kempo on his old grey mare.

Even more impressive was the Tiger Leaping Gorge. This was probably one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. It is the third deepest gorge in the world, and rises 3900m from the frothy Yangzi river below to the 5000- 5900m monster mountains above. The trek lasted two days, and we were hiking at between 2000m- 2700m about halfway up. At times we were perched on sheer cliff faces way way up. I haven't been able to come up with superlatives to explain the walk, and given Chinese computers, I'm not sure that I'll be able to get any photos to you guys either. Fingers crossed I find a good computer somewhere. Until then:

We have been celebrating Chinese New Year with the locals, and as of the 18th, it is now year of the pig. I'm not sure if this is how they do it every year, but they seem to be celebrating by enjoying eating heaps of them.

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Chinese kids/ babies win hands down as the cutest on Earth.

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For you Moof. This guy cooked us some great noodles. Showing Kempo how its done.

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Gotta love Chinese road signs.

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Kenny wouldn't know what to do with the poo bats you cop in China. We have seen the worst (seriously) toilets in the world here. But this one must be one of the best. Little tv screens, cigarette ash trays, but no toilet paper. Got the priorities sorted there...

We took in some local culture in the form of Classical Chinese music in Lijiang. Think of senile old men banging pots with cats screetching in the background, completely out of tune and you're close. They looked pretty cool though...

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Will try to get the gorge trek photos up asap. Until then hope you're all great.
Will and Matt

Posted by willh 20:57 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (7)

China II

Will & Kempo's Karst Recollections

overcast 13 °C

(Apologies this is a bit piecemeal as far as sequence of events go as it has been done over 5 days due to finding a good computer - we are now in Lijiang post Dali and Kunming)

Since Guilin where we last left you, we have hit Yangshuo for a few days and Nevervisitagain Nanning and after a 13 hour overnight train ride are now kicking back in Kunming ready to embark on Dali.

As a confucian proverb goes (excerpt from the book i'm reading at the moment - Red Dust) "never trust the wily fox who shows pity for the sick chicken". This could perhaps best sum up the experiences with the local traders in Yangshuo - sometimes we were the fox and other times you clearly felt clucky. It relives memories of the smiling assasin that cooly skun Moof for an ornamental necklace and then offerred him a FREE friendship bracelet in the Himalyas (and I agree Moof it was a sweet purchase). All that said Yangshuo was a super place to shop and we managed to get some absolute steals.

Yangshuo is most notable for its amazing Karst peaks which litter the countryside, one of our photos of which was a feature this week on the main page to travellerspoint! Kudos to Chris Halpin. Anyway keeping with William's prose, highlights:

  • Getting burnt by our student friends in Guilin for some other backpackers - we were supposed to meet at 11am and they never showed up, we later spotted them talking to some other foreigners!!
  • Early morning Elderly Kungfu around the lake of Guilin...with swords - Thommo's retirement home.
  • Sitting on a bucking bicycle for 6 hours - yeah the scenery was magnificent but after the first hour on the dirt tracks behind Yangshuo all you could think about was a soft seat and untroubled wrists.
  • Coke and ginger tea, where has this concotion been all my life - and I hate coke!
  • Kunming canine cuisine in dog alley - rest assured we passed.
  • Mass 24 hour dancing in the park - I guess after being starved of arts for 40 years who could blame them.
  • Paying 50 mao to walk into a public lavatory (which has open cubicles that are waist high and have no flushing mechanism, purely a long porcelian gutter) and watch some local take squeeze out a poo a metre from where i was using the urinal - nice.
  • Legally purchasing 2 bagfuls of fireworks to release on chinese new year - wish you were here Thomas.

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Award winning photo. Will 0/500 (photos taken) Kempo 1/10.

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1412 Dragon Bridge...

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..and the guy that built it.

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Big Banyon Tree over 1500 years old - we think, can never be too sure what with the supposed hundred year old pagodas in Guilin that turned out to be 6! - and the lady featured sowed the seeds.

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Broccolli - Chinese know what they're talking about.

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Couldn't think of a better place myself for a good shave then next to a major arterial.

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Jerry - need not say more.

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Source... (and there is no such thing as an analogy to sqealing like a pig, the sound was awful, they knew exactly what was going on.)

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....to serve.

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(unfortunately doesn't quite show but the guy next to the truck is wearing a two piece suit) so to all my fellow office workers out there, take note of the novel chinese way of passing the time when the work load is low.

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Canine cuisine.

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Cool kid, cooler cap playing some death warrior style computer game.

Posted by MOB 20:58 Archived in China Comments (7)

China II

Will and Kempo tackling everything china can throw at us

overcast 13 °C

Ni hao everyone! We are througholy enjoying all china has to offer, which is shiteloads.
So far we have eaten our way through pigeon, goose, eel, heart, lung (who knows from what animal), fish head, and... penis.

Yes, it's official. Kempo and Will have eaten penis. Ox penis.

We are currently in a fantastic place in the southwest called Yangshou. Lots of limestone peaks rising out of nowhere. Great markets, food, people etc. You all should visit, China really doesn't dissapoint. Language is a little bit of an issue at times but we have done pretty well by meeting people who speak english and with a bit of sign language we can and generally blunder through each day.

Some highlights:
- All you can eat yum cha. Last night we ate with some canadians for 33 yuan (5 bucks). All you can eat of so much crazy, great food, all you can drink, and soccer on tv. Gold.
- Meeting some local lads in Guilin and getting shown around all day. They came to the train station and helped us buy train tickets which saved a nightmare. The lads did a no show on us the next morning and then we spotted one with another westerner later. Obviously a tourist slut.
- Choosing what animal I wanted to eat at a restaurant. When I ordered fish they took me into a room to chose which one. This was basically a pet shop, with birds, snakes, rats, fish and dogs for eating!
- Hong Kong at night. Amazing views, great vibrant city. Worst hotel I've ever stayed in- including cambodia and india for kempo even.

Hope you are all happy and well. Will try to update again soon, enjoy the photos. Please send us a comment too!

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Hong Kong by night

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This guy was really cooking up a storm

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Chungking Mansions
Clearly not a mansion. More like worlds worst hotel.

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Mmm... Pigeon Head
This one is for you kinga. Doing our bit to bring down the pigeon population. Wasn't bad, but don't think I'll eat it again in a hurry.

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Oiyou Tea with the locals
This is us drinking the local tea in Guilin with our tourist slut "mates" Jiu and John.

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Bring it on....
Auditioning for the Kung Fu Hustle II

Posted by willh 04:17 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (6)

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