So finally my “Soul journey” started. I have absolutely no idea what to expect and in what way will this enrich/change me but I’m looking forward to it and I’m really curious. To begin with, I should probably stop thinking about bullshit and focus more on what is going on around me and switch to “chill” mode I guess.
In the morning I still had time to stuff myself with good breakfast, because in the next days I won’t be having 5* buffet available and then set off in a direction of Stone forest. Firstly, I took a taxi to Kunming Eastern Bus station (around 28RMB from Kunming Railway Station) and then Express Stone Forest bus to the forest (Shi Lin 石林). The journey had around 100km and it took us 1,5h. So at 11:20 I was already ready to explore the surroundings.
Short note about my trekking boots. I bought new ones and wanted to break them in so decided I have a good opportunity right now. But when I arrived to the Bus station, my ankles already hurt like hell and I wasn’t even able to make one step because of the pain. So I managed to get in the bus and untie my shoes. But then suddenly I hear someone is saying something about foreigner (laowai) in Chinese and since I was he only laowai in the bus, obviously they were talking about me. It turned out I managed to get in a wrong bus and because the other one was almost leaving (and remember I had my boots untied), I tied them up quickly around my ankles, stood up and suddenly wow.. I don’t feel my ankles anymore! So this is when I discovered that different techniques for tying shoes really work haha 🙂
Anyway, I went to buy tickets to the Forest (175RMB entrance + 25RMB for a minibus that will take you to the real Stone Forest entrance – 3km further but you can also walk if you want) and because it was raining, I was really grateful that minibus was available.
The Forest itself was pretty nice, I have to say I liked it. Most importantly, because it was raining, there were only few Chinese so I actually managed to get pretty good pictures and didn’t have to cut through crowds like crazy. Although Lonely Planet was not particularly keen on Stone Forest (“money making machine” and “tourist trap”), I was leaving with nice feeling, good memories and pics without Chinese everywhere. But because of the rain the stones were extremely slippery and because I didn’t have much sensitivity in those boots with hard sole, it was really difficult to climb those stony stairs and not break my leg, then I was sweating like a pig because of that humidity and quite high temperature so also not that ideal conditions.
Two hours later I decided to head back to Kunming and I arrived there around 3pm (one way ticket Kunming-Forest was 34RMB btw). I still had quite a lot of time there so decided to see Bamboo Temple. So from the Eastern Bus Stop I took bus to HuangTuPo (or sth like that) and then a smaller tourist bus to the temple – QiongZhu Si. Lonely Planet was soooo into this temple, like totally must-see in Kunming because of statues of surfing monks (really, surfing monks) so I was expecting something really extraordinary. The statues were really there and monks were surfing but not on surfboards, apparently on whatever they had nearby – cows, goats, you know, normal stuff.. And except of that, it was very difficult to look at those statues, plus there were some prayers going on so all together (with the music, chanting, smell of incense) it made me feel very uncomfortable, even scared.. I don’t know, it was weird 🙂
The prayers then moved inside and monks started to walk in circles and because I forgot about the rule of walking clock-wise, they started to shout at me sth in Chinese and that was already too much for me so I left. There was a huge tree outside of the temple which I really liked (and made couple of selfies with it haha) and then I took the same bus back to the city..
Of course I got lost and waited for my bus home for like an hour, before I realized the correct bus stop was just around the corner. I got to the hotel, sweaty, smelly and really needed to take a shower. I managed to persuade some receptionist to take a shower in their fitness center and the shower was sooo gooood! So to pay them the favor back, I bought the buffet dinner they were offering (300RMB omg!!! if I knew that before I ordered, I definitely wouldn’t go).. And it wasn’t anything special either, was pretty disappointed.
So I’m eating my dinner, watching Chinese CCTV news.. They were showing two kinds playing near a pond. One of them fell into the water and couldn’t swim. So I’m expecting that when they are showing this, it means someone will save the kid probably. Suddenly the second kind is in the water, drowning.. And then suddenly cut and they are showing those two poor kids floating on the water, face down.. WTF!!! How can they show something like this in a national TV! I completely lost my appetite and felt absolutely terrible for the rest of the night..
Later, around 10pm I moved to the Railway Station to catch my train to Dali. Sleeper’s train, 7-8h ahead of me. The coupe was comfy, clean and not smelly and there were 2 youngsters in there with me (from Hong Kong). So we talked a bit, where are we going and where we already went.. It was really nice.
I tried to sleep a bit on the way but really couldn’t.. Every now and then there was a huge noise coming out of the train, loud as hell so it always woke me up. And around 5:30 in the morning I arrived to Dali.