Ok, I admit with most other people, the Stone forest is a bit of a trap. But if you come to Kunming you gotta see it once. But half of the trap (and fun)is just getting there, you can book a tour, catch the bus at the bus station, or have you hotel set up a trip for you. In my case, I did not want to leave at 7 am from the bus depot, so we booked a tour with the Camellia Hotel. As we paid for our tickets we eyed the new shiny new motor couch that was parked along side. ( the lady kept point in the directing of the bus.) So we paid her our 80 RMB (cash only accepted) and headed for the bus, but the big bus was not for us, it seem like her brother or other family relative had his little Changong van parked on the other side of the bus (out of site) These vans might fit 6 SMALL people ok, So me and 6 OTHER LARGE travel who smelled like the had not showered for a while and have just been eating nothing but garlic for the last week or so. So we pile in for the ride of our life, freezing cold, but we had to kept the windows open because of the vans exhaust leak. We arrived, shaken but alive. We were dropped off of about 1/3 of mile away from the gate and told to walk the rest of the way, and meet back road side around 2 pm. We walk to the main entrance, me being a student and having my student ID only paid 55 RMB while my fellow passengers paid the full 80 RMB. I could tell the lady taking the money hated to give my a discount, see kept inspecting my ID like it was some sort of fake.
Unique Suggestions: Just make the best out if it. It is a cool place and worth the trip (once) just don't get bummed out by vendors trying to sell you something at every turn. ( or some guy comes out af a cave and trys to sell you a fake Rolex.
Kunming international airport
I arrived at Kunming at 4 pm so, I did expect to find an exchange office opened or, at least some atms in the airport.
Once I was done with immigration procedures, I got out, found the atm, tried all the cards I had and got a: your card is not valid answer.
So I looked around to check where an excahnge office was and there was none.I went to the information(it was written in english), asked where i could change money and I got answered: no english.After a few minuts walking around the airport a nice guy asked me if he could help and, when i told him I needed to change money he said that the banck was closed and that atm wasn't working after the banck closed.
Unique Suggestions: Do like I did, take a taxi to the hotel and then, once there, change money.
I stayed in hotel Camelia and, just next to the hotel there is a sauna.
I asked for info and they told me the price for sauna, foot massage and chinese massage, was about 9 euro and it would be 2 hours long.
I thought it was a deal and enjoyed.The only problem was that the only minuts I enjoyed, were the ones inside the sauna, as the rest of the time, I got bothered with any kind of offert, manicure, pedicure, head massage and so on.
Final result it was everything but relaxing!
Unique Suggestions: Be very firm in saying NO at any offert as the price would go much upper.
Fun Alternatives: Try another sauna and let me know if you get more luck.
Bus ride to Stone Forest (Shilin)..
I followed guide book, went to railway station, wanted to get train tickets to go Stone Forest (Shilin), but this ROUTE IS NO MORE IN OPERATION, although the fare/timing is still shown above ticketing counter!!
Went outside, a bus depot. A man saw us, asked for destination, told us a we'll go by an Iveco mini bus. Paid, boarded the bus, set off. Total: 3 other finnish, 3 friends and me. 5 mins later, stopped at roadside, transferred 2 a smaller, shaky bus, with about 6 chinese tourist. The suspension of bus was pathetic. We were cheated!
Worse to come: Whole journey lasted 3 - 4 hrs! Visited temples, jade shops, etc. And the tour guide (since when did we want one?!!) was noisy.
Return journey's slighly better, faster, but the bus stills shakes like mad!
Good thing: made friends with e finnish family. We were all in e same boat (bus), conned! haha!
Fun Alternatives: If u'r looking to save $, I guess this is it, personally don't know any alternatives.
If you've got more cash to spare, take a cab. Or many people, rent a mini bus, besides Stone Forest, u can visit more places in a day.
- Budget Travel
- School Holidays
Big Stone Forest - A 'Must See' Trap :)
Go to Nai Gu shilin/Forest, then visit some nearby villages would be more fun than trapped at the Big Stone Forest with tens of thousands of tourists.
Unique Suggestions: At least stay away from this 'famous' scene, where EVERY one has to have a photo with it, 'it' means, the two big characters saying 'shi lin' (stone forest). Chinese like to give a nice name (or not necessarily nice but a name) to every 'scenic spot'.
Many tourits seem to care more about having their photos taken with anywhere with such 'name's of the scene even wasting lot time in line (or just pushing around), instead of actually spending more time enjoying the scene... :(
Fun Alternatives: Suggestion: as said many times: do NOT go to Big Stone Forest, but instead, go to more natural and quiet Nai Gu Stone Forest (same train, why not!)
Every year the seagulls come top Kunming (green lake) to eat trash
Unique Suggestions: What is the big deal about these birds anyways? All they are is Seagull. Basically rats with wings that eat trash and spread disease. And with the threat of bird flu, these birds should be on top of list of birds that should be eradicated. Some people might not agree with point of view on killing all these birds and making seagull hats with real seagull wings on the sides. But before you jump in the environmentalist band wagon and get all up set, please hear me out.
First of all, they are not a native species of Kunming, and eat the food of native birds that are from Kunming. They only started coming from Russia to Kunming a few years ago. Does Kunming have bird flu yet? No. Does Russia have a bird flu problem? Yes they do. And it is not like these birds make a great journey over vast oceans, only using the star to navigate. No, the just follow route 101 south from Siberia, stopping to eat trash all the way.
Fun Alternatives: Oh, how cruel! How could you ever think about killing these birds? Well let me tell you something people, you are doing a pretty good job of killing them slowly with out my help. Just go down to the lake and you will see the tons of arty clogging, cancer causing junk food that you feed those birds. Just look the water surface, covered with uneaten soggy bread. There are 2 men in boats from the Dept. of “Picking up soggy bread and cigarette butts” at work all day just to keep the lake from clogging with bread. By the time winter is over and your beloved gull have to fly north they will be to fat and lazy to fly, and the ones that can will probably dies of a heart attach as soon as they take flight. Plus they are being feed food that birds should not eat, such as, chicken wings, goose liver baozi, and other bird products. Does anyone remember Mad cow disease? What was it caused? From feeding a species food made from the same species’. If you think this bird flu is a problem, just wait till there is an out break of Mad Seagull Disease (MSD)
And last, has there ever been any great seagull in history? Do these birds have the ability to dive for fish, hunt squirrel? (If they did, the would of eaten all the squirrels at the Yunnan Universty years ago) or be trained to talk or find lost children in a snow storm? They don’t even sing a nice song. So, now you see my point. You kind of get my point that these birds are nothing special and don’t deserve the red carpet be rolled out for them when the arrive in Kunming,
So I say we meet at the park, drink some beers, everyone brings their own bat or a ping pong paddle and we get to work on getting rid of this problem once and for al
China's Biggest EMPTY! Flower Market
We did a day trip from Kunming to Dounan(?). All our Chinese friends were very enthusiastic about it, because Dounan supposedly has China's biggest flower market. Anyway, we got there after a tedious bus ride through awful traffic, only to find that this market was a sort of wholesaler's joint and they sell just about everything before sunrise! We got there about 3 in the afternoon and the only things left were a few bonsai trees and some cacti. My flatmate and I bought the pictured plants: Botano-bonsai-nanza the Bonsai and Mother of Manchus the Cactus.
Unique Suggestions: If you wanna see the flower market, you're gonna have to get up really early!
Forget it, these women at the village leading to the Baisha Frescos just want $$$. If you want to take a pix, be prepared to fork out some money. If not, they'll make sure you pay them somehow. I think it's really a disgrace; considering most people in this town are really nice & friendly.
Dian Chi Lake
Came down from Shi Shan, I took a short walk along Dian Chi. The best view of Dian Chi is from Shi Shan Mountain, at close, it is just a pool of dirty water! Not worth a visit!
Wow! Look at this little...
Wow! Look at this little rabbit and friends, they were turned into stone by some mystical power of Kunming....hahaha.
This is actually some kind of sculptures somewhere in Kunming.
Local tribal costume
Rent a costume of the local tribes & take a pix! Look at the no. of people mending those costumes! I'd rather be the photographer :)
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