This past March, my team at work had a meetup in Hong Kong, so my friend Denise and I decided to head over that way early and vacation somewhere. Denise loves the beach and snorkeling and I love other people making all of the decisions, so we narrowed things down to about seven beaches, and then picked Koh Lipe, Thailand.
Several days ago I flew from freezing, rainy Zhongdian to Kunming. Kunming is a big, fairly Western city (the last I will be visiting before Laos), and I had an errand list a mile long for my stopover there; however, I arrived exhausted and cranky, and managed to do nothing but stomp around the city acting like a jerk to all the vendors.
Well, I hated Lijiang. I suppose I was tired, or in a bad mood, or maybe it was the holiday crowds, but my immediate reaction to the most loved spot in Yunnan was, ‘No. Just no.’ I did not like it.
I returned to struggle again with the mountain, and the mountain won. I’m just back from three amazing days staying at the wonderful Higherland Inn on the side of the Cang Shan. The Inn is run by Li Ping (sp?), who could not be nicer or more helpful. It’s peaceful up there, and beautiful. It’s cozy and the food is great. I wanted to live there, but all good things must come to an end.
Yesterday, I viewed the three pagodas outside of Dali. According to the Lonely Planet, these pagodas are “among the oldest standing structures in southwestern China.” Also according to the LP, they are free, but in fact, they are walled in and cost Y121 – Y62 if you have an old student ID (which I do). The pagodas are at the bottom of the park, and behind them is a never-ending series of temples with stairs behind leading to yet another temple, like those Russian stacking dolls. I hadn’t gone far when I was abducted by some monks and bundled into…
At 6:o0 a.m this past Thursday, I stumbled down the stairs at Lisa’s Cafe and Hostel and found all the doors locked and barred. I had to catch the 6:30 express bus to Guilin, or I would miss my 8:50 sleeper train to Kunming, so when I found myself locked in, I panicked and ran all around the hostel, rattling doorknobs.
I have turned into the world’s laziest tourist. I have seriously done nothing for four days. Well, that’s not true. I’ve been hanging out at a lot of cafes with many Swedes, Slovaks, Brits, Israelis, Danes and so forth. And eating a lot of overpriced noodles and pancakes. And I bought a pair of wrap-around pants.
Saturday I took my Li River cruise. Before we got on the boat, we had to take a bus to the loading place and once we arrived, the bus unloaded into an absolute swarm of Chinese tourists (sprinkled with Westerners) and I promptly lost sight of everyone in my group.
I say Guilin is Gatlinburg-esque, because it’s a very touristy town in the middle of gorgeous mountains. The similarity ends there, however. Guilin is also on the Li River, which winds through the city, puddling into many lakes surrounded on all sides by landscaped parks. The parks and the river are lit at night with colored lights everywhere, and in the mornings, mist hangs over the huge, blobbish mountains that surround the city, and it’s lovely really. Except for all the tourists.
Sorry it’s been so long since my last dispatch, but I’ve been busy getting schooled. My first official travel adventure began on the bus to Zhaoqing. The only passengers on the bus were me, and a very pretty girl named Jay, who is home on holiday from the University of Birmingham in England and lives in Zhaoqing.