Thank you for continuing to read part two of my Yunnan trip. If you haven’t done so already, you can read part one of my Yunnan trip by clicking here: Part One.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I thought Yunnan was overrated. I found a couple of locals who were very rude and impolite to us (while those who were extremely friendly and nice towards us were our hotel hosts, tour guides, and restaurants we visited). Shopkeepers were extremely aggressive with their selling (and I understand that their income may be low, but that doesn’t make me not dislike their aggressiveness), and the bathrooms there were very, very unhygienic. Even the food wasn’t as tasty as we thought, and sometimes the food wasn’t even cooked (we had dumplings where the meat was still pink >o<). This is really disappointing as it made us lose trust in FOOD… we immediately lost appetite after this incident.
And we awake at 6:00am to get ready for our trip from Lijiang to Shangri-La. Again, we booked the tour through trips.taobao.com. Along the way to the tourist bus, there were street vendors selling tea eggs, soybean milk, and Shanghai dumplings (it’s mainly bread and very little meat so don’t get it unless you’re super hungry!).
When going to Shangri-La, it is best to sit on the right side of the vehicle. I found that there were more views to see by sitting on the right side of our bus. Anyway, our first stop was the Tiger Leaping Gorge. The gorge itself was very spacious and very wide, and it was fascinating to see a huge amount of water gushing down from the stream. However, I was not impressed with the color of the water as it looked very dirty to me.
Along the way, our tour guide told us a very good story about the skewers that were sold in Yunnan (and I think it summarizes China’s food pretty well). He said, once upon a time, there was a street food vendor cooking beef and lamb skewers. A cow and lamb walked up and each had a tear in their eyes, because they were sad to see their parents being cooked. A rat appears out of nowhere and says, “Actually, these are my parents.” Shiver.
After lunch, we proceeded to go to the SongZanLin temple, the largest Tibetan temple in Yunnan. We even noticed that some of the writings in this area weren’t even in Mandarin. Since we weren’t exactly the biggest fans of temples (I find that temples are generally the same in many Asian places), we left early to take a quick nap at our pre-booked hotel (included with the tour). Needless to say, not the best hotel since the water was yellow. Yes yellow. I thought the hotel staff didn’t clean the toilet before their new guests came but turns out it’s just their water that looks like pee.
At night, we were driven to the house of Tibetan people (or so I believe, I could be wrong with the ethnicity due to mistranslation), also another ethnic group. We were first served dinner, with Tibetan food items of course. Some of the stuff was just dry, sour, it didn’t taste very good. They had chicken though, which was extremely tasty. Then they entertained us and with singing and dancing and made us laugh through some story telling. They got a couple people on stage to reenact what they usually do for their marriage rituals as well. The MC of the night was extremely charismatic and witty, and what I thought would be a waste of time turned out to be my favorite event for the entire trip. They also had the tradition of drinking 3 cups of wine… I forgot what the 1st cup was in honor for, but the 2nd cup was for all the parents in the world for creating us and the 3rd cup was for everyone that created the fun and enjoyment that night. Us, the audience, was challenged as well to try to break their wooden floor, and anyone who managed to do so would be awarded a cow (worth at least RMB 20000). No one had a cow to bring home unfortunately.
For our very last attraction, we stopped by Pudacuo National Park and we had 4 hours to spend there. Basically the two main things to see are the Shudu Lake (3.3km) and Bitu Lake (4.2km). For the Shudu Lake, you can walk along the lake, take a bus along the lake, or pay RMB 50 (per person) to take a ship across the lake. For the Bitu Lake, you can walk or take the ship. Maybe it’s just me, and maybe it’s also the weather combined, but I wasn’t extremely impressed with the lake. I mean, I can imagine it’d be a good walk when you’re retired and just need some fresh air, but for me walking along the same lake for 1.5 hours (Bitu Lake) didn’t give me the wow factor. Looking at the lake 10 mins after, 30 mins after, 1 hour after, you’re still seeing the same body of water and same set of trees. By the way, what we did was we took the bus for the Shudu Lake and walked the Bitu Lake (took us 1.5 hours), so you can walk both lakes if you’re feeling athletic that day.
That marked the last attraction of our tour. After lunch, we were driven back from where we were picked up. We spent our extra few hours around Old Town of Lijiang again and ended up eating at a hot pot restaurant (only with more confidence seeing that Fang Bingbing has also eaten at this restaurant before).
For a video of bee babies and larvaes squirming and wiggling… http://youtu.be/NrL4QVWlED4
From Old Town of Lijiang, it took us about 25 mins (including waiting for taxi) to get to the train station, where it took about 9 hours to reach back to Kunming.
If you’re feeling like taking the train as well, please remember to take care of your belongings. I know it’s a “no duh” kind of rule but thieves are more common in overnight trains when you’re asleep and you have other people sleeping in the same room as you (4 beds per room). Also if you’re an extremely OCD person, please note that the pillows and blankets provided may not smell like lilies and your blankets may feel a bit damp. But it is really cheap to get a bunk bed to live on… only RMB 200. And no you and your girlfriend cannot share a bed as there is only enough space for one person.
So will I come here again? There are other parts of Yunnan that are also supposed to be beautiful, but I will keep my expectations lower this time. People have said Shangri-La is a “must-go” for your life, but let me save you some time right now and say it doesn’t hurt going, but it doesn’t hurt not going either. I would actually prefer LiJiang over Shangri-La. It really is a scenic place so don’t come here for shopping or good food, and don’t come here if you’re obsessed with hygiene. I would probably spend 2-3 extra days so that I can also see Lugu lake and also visit Dalian as well. Ctrip.com, trips.taobao.com, and flight tickets from HK Express have substantially lowered our costs of this trip.
If you haven’t done so, you can read Part One by clicking here.
Have you been to Yunnan? What did you think of it? If you haven’t, would you still want to go? Why or why not?
*Originally published on Sept. 16, 2014