Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Yunnan Adventure Day 2 - LiJiang

Am out of bed and on the streets by 0800hrs. Perfect time to watch the Old City waking up. I stroll along looking for a place where I can treat my taste-buds to the local specialities - namely 'Crossing the Bridge Noodles', yak butter tea and 'ba ba' - a kind of local flat bread in which you can stuff with meats and bits. There's another speciality that I don't bother seeking out - something that contains pig blood. I eat and try to plan an itinerary but all it does is leave me overwhelmed and frustrated. There's so much to see and do but so little time and I have to leave for Tiger Leaping Gorge tomorrow morning. I decide to rent a bike and cycle out to the surrounding area. Bike rental guy (Ah Guan of Nice Hiking Club) is really friendly and gives lots of information and advice on things to see.

First stop, Black Dragon Lake - sparkling green waters that hold up the majestic Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance, and is supposedly one of the best places for that perfect shot of the mountain. I on the other hand couldn't quite make out which it was :p

pic taken from

Spend ages exploring the Dongba Research Institute and a small museum that displays Dongba scrolls and artifacts. Dongba being the pictographic script that was developed by the Naxi people, and apparently really difficult to interpret. The language is verbally passed down to fultur generations by Dongba (Naxi scholar-priests). Unfortunately, the lack of interest from the younger generation is slowly leading to the extinction of the language.

Was trigger happy so took loads and loads of pics too. Skipped the Elephant Hill as incidents of muggings have been reported especially to women who'd hiked up alone.

Hop back onto my bike and cycle 7km to Bai Sha villag. Stop at Suhe village first thogh. Regret it instantly. Nothing but tourist shops line the streets and it's completely commercialised! Entry fee is
3o yuan but a guy approaches me saying he can get me in for 10 yuan via a back way. I agree. hehehe. Hang around for 2 hours then leave. One thing that struck me was the fact that the water flowing through what we would call road-side drains, were crystal clear!! People wash their clothes in there and I swear it looked clean enough to drink. Find out that the Dongba religion is "...based on the relationship between nature and man. In Dongba mythology, 'Nature' and 'Man' are half-brothers, having different mothers." WIKIPEDIA.ORG and hence respect nature and put alot of effort into protecting it.

Leave Suhe after 1.5 hours (was trying to take a short cut but got lost instead). Continue on to Bai Sha taking small dirt roads through villages and padi fields. Stop to ask a Na
xi woman who was leading a little girl (tourist) on a horse. Turns out they're heading in the same direction and they invite me to join them. I've got company! Chat with the dad who was born in Kunming and talk about travel. I'm impressed by my Mandarin! We get to Bai Sha and it's nothing as I'd been expecting. Thought I'd be going to a proper village where I could chat with its inhabitants. Unfortunately, this was a walled area with pretty much the same artifacts I'd been seeing the entire time. I can't help but think that I should walk farther into the area but I am 'fresco-ed' up to my teeth and I am in no mood to do anymore. Toy with the idea of checking out a couple of temples and pagodas but am told that they are at least 2 hours away and I still have to think of my return trip to the city. BLEH! I decide not to go.

Back to the Old City. My skin starts to prickle and sting as I've forgotten my sun-screen.
Fabulous! Silly billy. I'm going to regret this. We arrive back at Suhe (via the short cut I couldn't fine earlier :p). Dad is really nice and we exchange e-mail addresses before parting ways.

I'm beat!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Yunnan Adventure Day 1


Touch down at Kunming Airport. Weather's fabulous!! About 25 deg and dry. Seeing how I have very little time, I decide to skip Kunming and Dali, and head straight to LiJiang. Grab cab to long-distance bus station on Beijing Rd. Managed to buy last ticket on 1430hr bus. 174 yuan, 8 hour ride. Oh well... I realise i'm the only non-Chinese here... where are all the tourists?!?

I have time to kill but it starts drizzling. WTF! Plus it's getting chilly. Head to the toilets but let's just say my objective was not met. The doorless cubicles and the constant traffic of females waiting their turn don't help. Sorry to get a little too detailed, but bare bums were in all their glory as row upon row of toilet goers perch themselves over a narrow drain. I get as far as pulling my pants down.


We're off! I sleep for most of the journey.


Our first pit stop and toilet break. Now I understand why guys can't go when another is standing too close. Attempt No. 2. I freeze again, mainly because this woman is standing right in front of me waiting for my spot. My brain is screaming at her to get the hell out of my face but it's such a normal thing for them I knew she wouldn't understand. Someone else finishes before me and she goes away. WHEW! I vow not to drink anymore!


Arrive at Lijiang! I'm knackered. Who knew that sitting on your ass for a total of 14 hrs could be so tiring :p Weather has gotten cooler. About 21 deg. I get a bed at the First Bend Inn, in the Old City. It's beautifully lit, with red chinese lanterns, and twinkling lights and it's ancient style buildings with cobble-stoned streets make it easy to imagine the scene of long-ago China. Well almost if you ignore the masses of tourists clogging the streets. It's incredibly commercialised! I share a quad with 2 teachers from Chengdu who'd been on the go for the past 2 weeks and are heading to Szechuan the next day. Unfortunately our itineraries do not overlap. I call it an early night. Lots to do tomorrow!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Yunnan, Here I Come!

HAH! so much for not having a mini-vacation!!! What started with a 2 day trip down to the nearby water-village of Suzhou has now turned into a week-long exploration of Yunnan!!! And believe it or not it all started when i found out that Yen was in Kunming (well at that point I didn't realise that she'd left). Anyway, Yunnan has been on my to visit list eversince I'd gotten here, and since JJ'd been there, he highly recommended that I do it so, voila! I'm flying tomorrow morning at 8 am. Now I gotta do some speedy packing! JJ's making it so much easier by lending me his backpack, mini first aid kit, and all sorts of useful little nick-nacks to use on my trip... The interesting thing about this trip is that I don't have a pre-planned itinerary. A first for me. I hate not knowing what I'll be doing each day. It's unnerving. There's a first for everything I guess.

Ok retail therapy got a little out of hand so I'm not sure if I'm gonna be able to afford a mini-holiday after all :( but I've been presented with 2 options for which I'm grateful. First of all, one of the students from the English class I was teaching has invited a couple of us back to his home town tomorrow. I have no idea where it is but apparently it's quite lovely. And secondly, JJ's bought a new bike and said that he'd take a few half-days so that we can go to the outskirts and do a spot of cycling and kite flying! Yay! My diving has been put on hold as the the instructors would be away on some diving conference on the exact weekend I was planning to do the course. It sucks because that's the ONLY weekend I have off before going back to work. BLEH!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


And so it has begun, the celebratory activities that mark the end of 4 gruelling weeks of work, sacrificed weekends and daily 4-hour shut eyes. The splurging commenced on Friday itself, on Sasha's gorgeous gorgeous pizzas and happy hour drinks, after which all 16 of us piled into cabs and headed for an hour or 2 (make that 5 and a half) of karaoke and i can't remember how many bottles of Johnny Walker with Green Tea. Was pleasantly surprised to wake up the next morning with zero hangover and my voice still intact. Seeing how I was in such good spirits, some retail therapy was in order - no therapy's not the word - TREAT for surviving the month!! New phone, new external HD, new laptop cable, a BEAUTIFULLY quirky looking sake set from Spins (site currently under construction -, lingerie was on my list as well as a pretty little jewel for my piercing, to replace the one I'd lost a long long time ago, and not forgetting a trip to the nail spa, but couldn't fit them all in that afternoon as had a birthday dinner to attend. Teppanyaki eat & drink all you can for RMB150!! Copious amounts of sake and beer later it was on to Windows Tembo for more cheap drinks. Needless to say, I'm nursing a hangover today. But I still want my jewel so am forcing myself out of bed to get that taken care of before meeting Jess for brunch. groooooooooooooooan!

My yummy-looking sake set!

a sample of Spin