This is what we have to look forward to:
Kunming Stone Forest, Shilin in Chinese, known since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.) as the ‘First Wonder of the World’, is in Lunan Yi Nationality Autonomous County, which is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Kunming and requires only a three-hour drive. It covers an area of 400 square kilometers (96,000 acres) and includes both large and small stone forests, as well as many other scenic spots. An old local saying says that ‘If you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time.’ Truly, the site is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan…
Never actually made it to the Stone Forest but saw parts of it from a distance and that certainly looked impressive! First day on the dusty road, and not a truer word was said. Roadworks was the order of the day which led to some uncomfortable cycle for the dynamic duo (John and Sang). Sitting in the support vehicle there were times you couldn’t see them beyond fifty meters, the dust was so bad.
Which doesn’t lead to comfortable progress. Lorry drivers don’t like using the motorways as they have to pay toll, so they use the smaller A roads which in turn break up and need to be re-laid, hence the problem. So our DD changed colour to grey by mid afternoon and we had to think about how to get around this issue for the sake of their health.
It was decided to go to higher ground and use the mountain passes when possible even though it will take up to four times longer and possibly use the SV to aid passage. But about 80 miles was covered today bearing in mind John had only about four hours kip over the previous two days as our journey to China took 29 hours due to atrocious weather at Guangzhou delaying our flight to Kunming. Our driver Alex who speaks excellent English took us to probably the best Duck restaurant for lunch, we just happened to be passing it at 2pm so decided to stop, and had duck, chicken, rice and vegetable soups served with copious tea! Amazing.
The views along the way of the rice terraces and fruit plantations is wonderful so much of old China still exists as the road advancement trundles on.
We arrived at our hotel in Mile, a spar resort which lots of people walking around in white towelling bathrobes spa-ing. Very nouveau chinese. Bar food (chips and chicken wings, spicy fried fish and boiled pigs ears) and beer for supper. We left John going for a two hour chinese massage at 10.30pm… hopefully he will be at breakfast for 7am as we start day two.
You can see the video highlights of Day One here: