A Travellerspoint blog

January 2000

The Stir Fry Bus Ride From Wokking Hell

Hey Hey and a HELL G'Day toya Wasn't that the long distance bus ride from the very depths of Hell! Unfreakinbelievable! Twenty one freakin hours being tossed around in the back bed of the crappy little sleeper bus. I should change my name to 'Stirfry'. I've been tossed around enough to warrant it! The roads were horrible most of the way and we wound our way around and around, up and down, around and around, up and down and then around and around what I'm sure were every mountain on the planet. Why we chose the big back bed I don't know but I do know I will never choose it again. The four of us spent most of the night rolling into each other. It was fun for awhile but when it stopped being fun it became horrible. Poor Israeli was so green I thought she was going to die! The bus was full so we couldn't even move to any of the single beds. I must say though, Sleeper Buses! What a fantastic idea! Why don't we have them in Australia? What you have is a bus and inside you have like a squashed in version of a hostel dormitory. Our sleeper bus had two rows of bunks running along the windows with our big bed at the rear of the bus. We copped all the fumes and the sounds of the motor all night. Can't say I felt that great when we arrived. Mate, how beautiful is Jinghong? Ask me. Go on! As the sun finally got its butt out of bed and allowed us to see the world around us I thought I had rolled around so much during the night that I had banged my head and was seeing things. I felt like I was back in Australia driving around Port Douglas and the Daintree. It was absolutely stunning. When we arrived in Jinghong this afternoon we found a dorm at the Xishuangbanna Guesthouse and then went out to explore the city of palm trees. Wonderful, just wonderful! How beautiful is Jinghong! It is so much like Cairns in Australia in its 'Slow down mate. It will eventually get done' attitude. We found Mei Mei Café and sat to settle our nerves and bones with a beer and a huge feast. It was also great to see Israelis colour return. So far the four of us have really hit it off as travel friends which makes everything so much easier. Tomorrow, the bike ride into bliss! Beers N Cheers toya...shane ___________________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was 'Remember Shakti' What an experience! ***** (2007) Since my first visit to The Banna seven years ago I have been lucky to have returned to this wonderful place in the world. So wonderful it is that I would say that it my favourite place on earth (besides the Gold Coast/Tweed Coast areas). Happily for anyone who wants to travel there now the bus ride is a hell of a lot different. My first visit, as you have read, it took twenty one slow stir frying hours winding around the mountains on a small sleeper bus. My second visit last winter (2006) it took me fifteen hours winding around mountains on much better roads on a bigger and must faster sleeper bus. Besides the bus there was also another big difference. As we wound our way around the mountains we were driving beneath a huge super highway on legs that when finished will take you STRAIGHT through the mountains to the border of Laos. I would say that now the new super highway should be finished. So my next visit, it should take somewhere around eight hours...more or less (maybe ?). The city still has a very laid back feel. Mei Mei's has moved and doubled in size and still serves the best food. Forest Café is still in the same place and hasn't changed at all and Sarah still makes the best burger in China. If she's not there don't order the burger as her brothers burgers are not as good! I made friends with the wonderful couple who run the Mekong Café. German Uli and his beautiful Chinese Dai Peoples wife, Vicky. We still email off and on and I hope to return when ever I find the time to travel to Laos and Cambodia. The Xishuangbanna Region mate...add it to your itinerary if you're thinking about travelling China. Forget Shanghai or Beijing or Zhongdian. Its Chinas answer to Thailand etc...extreme paradise!

Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival

Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival


Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival (1)

Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival (1)


Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival (2)

Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival (2)


Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival (3)

Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival (3)


Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival (4)

Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival (4)


Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival (5)

Xishuangbanna - Jinhong Arrival (5)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Wonderfully White Kunming

HeyHey and a Big G'Day toya

The day is sunny here, the snow is melting and all is well. I just changed a heap more money and I'm now full again. I must say I'm going through more that I thought especially now that it's Spring Festival and everything has risen in price.

Plus staying in Yangshuo for so long was a real bad idea. I love Kunming already. We are staying at a great hotel called the Camellia Hotel. The staff is really friendly and more than helpful with anything you need. We had a wonderful night last night walking Kunming's snow covered streets.

If I had a girl with me it would have described it as romantic, but sadly I must describe it as wonderful instead..ha ha! For dinner we went to a local eatery where we sat spitting our bones and other unwanted food stuffs onto the floor. Hey, if you can't beat them, join them! The food was awesome but I don't like the way they cut their meat here in China. In fact they don't cut it at all, instead they smash it to pieces. I love eating chicken but here it is full of shattered bones. I can't seem to figure out why they don't just cut the meat from the bone like we do. You spend have the time spitting bone splinters onto the floor. So instead of eating chicken I guess you could actually say, you are actually eating a chicken flavoured fish! Anyhow, just a quick message as we have to head to the supermarket to stock up on food for the long bus ride to Jinghong. I can't believe I'm going to be on a bus for nearing thirty hours. It's a huge way to celebrate ones first long distance bus ride in China. BUGGER! The Xishuangbanna better be worth the bus journey there! Beers N Cheers toya...shane _________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by my busking friend 'Darren the Busker'. If you've been to Melbourne you've probably stopped to listen to him playing. He usually sits at the end of the Mall at the Swanston Street Walk end right near the two (or three) metal statues of funny looking people. For the last few years he has had his Japanese wife with him who paints whilst he plays. I haven't had an email for a few months but last I heard they were heading back to Japan to see her family as they do several times a year for many months. The album was 'Vibrations' Beautiful stuff my friend!

  • ** even now seven years later I still stay at the Camillia Hotel each time I visit Kunming and when I was living in Guangxi I went back quite a few times. It's in a great area and the staff are still great. Another great thing about it is you can pay for half a days sleep if you have just caught a smoky disco sleep bus from Dali or Lijiang etc. The dorm bathrooms are the cleanest I've come across in China

Wonderfully White Kunming

Wonderfully White Kunming

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

The Train Journey That Dreams Are Made Of!

HeyHey and a Big G'Day toya WOW, what an adventure the last few days have been! OK, remember when I said I wanted to become a not so planned traveller? I got my wish forced upon me but how strange that everything worked out just fine! OK, we got to Guilin and tried to find a bus going up to Kaili. No suck luck. It seemed that everything was sold out. Either that or they were the train station women's best friends. So we gave in and tried the train station again. Of course there was no happiness to be offered at the train station ticket office. Why would there be! GRRRR! That was it for me, I had had enough. I was not going to stay in this area one more night. Israeli Girl and I took a seat to rest and relax. Whilst looking around the station and at all the stunning Chinese girls I noticed an unmanned gateway. I guess here was my chance at bringing on 'the big change' I wanted. We grabbed our packs and simply walked through and boarded a train. There were no seats available so we grabbed some floor space with everyone else. How did I feel inside? Awesome! We had no idea where the train was going but I guess we were now going that way too! The train we would soon find out was actually going to Nanning. As we had both already been to Nanning it wasn't actually the way we wanted to go but we said 'Bugger it' let's do it, and do you know what, it was the most amazing train journey ever! Not long after the train began its journey a Chinese guy came over to me and asked in the most perfect English I have ever heard if we wanted to come sit with him and his friends. I kind of looked at him and said 'huh'. He repeated his invitation and once again I said 'huh...um...wow'. He then asked if I spoke English. I apologised and asked him where he learnt to speak 'that kind of English'. Here is the conversation; Chinese Guy: Excuse me Sir, would thou and friend like to accompany myself and my friends to Nanning? Me: Huh! Chinese Guy: Excuse me Sir, would thou and friend like to accompany myself and my friends to Nanning? Me: Huh! Oh....um....Wow! Chinese Guy: Is thou's native tongue English? Me: Wow! I'm so sorry, where did you learn to speak 'that kind of' English? Chinese Guy: I'm from Urumqi in Xinjiang Province. My father and I have acquired English through tapes and books. Mainly authors such as Dickens......on and on and on! It took everything in me to stop myself from laughing. I then found out that he had not only, NEVER seen a foreigner before but he had never spoken to one. I then found out where Urumqi and Xinjiang Province was when he showed me on my map. I stared at him in disbelief, but there he was, right before my eyes. None of his friends could speak a word of English but there he was speaking like he was born in the royal family and having no idea that no one actually spoke that way in 'real life'. It then became more unbelievable! He and his friends had been on the train, in Hard Seat for over 5 days yet they looked so happy and alive. We were surrounded by a train full of people that had never seen a foreigner before and many continually walked up and down the isle looking at us. Poor Israeli got the worst of it as she had long red hair and freckles. That really freaked them out. It then became even more unbelievable! He was part of a Dance Group that was on its way to Nanning for a Minority Dance Festival. One of the girls was super stunning and they had all been trained in many types of dance. So I found out that for the past five days they had been singing and dancing their way across China. So sing and dance they continued to do. I sat in total awe for the entire six hours it took for us to get to Nanning. They all danced and sang and the other passengers all clapped along with them. I also found out that no one could really understand what they were singing about as they were singing in their own Local Language. Sadly, so sadly the train pulled into Nanning station. I didn't want the journey to end. This was what I was searching for. We all said a sad good bye and Israeli and I sat to discuss what to do and where to go. Kunming! Let's try to get a ticket to Kunming from here was her response. Ohhhhh noooo, not again! I replied. She laughed, walked to the ticket booth and returned with two hard seat tickets for later that evening. Unfreakingbelievable! We spent a few hours walking around the town and then sat for beer and hotpot across from the station. When the train pulled in we went to get on in the hard seat carriage and were then escorted to the Hard Sleeper carriage. Wahoo, a free upgrade! See what happens when you simply let things happen. They actually do but in a totally unexpected way! Unexpected things would continue to happen! Why did we leave Yangshuo? It was bloody freezing in Yangshuo! Why were heading to Kunming? Things were warm in Kunming! Yeah Right! I woke up at seven thirty thinking how wonderful it would be to be warm again. Blue skies, sunshine, cold beer and maybe even shorts! Yeah Right! As Israeli had a lower bunk and was awake I asked her how glorious the day was outside. Oh glorious it is! She said with a funny smirk. I didn't like that smirk, it told lies. After jumping from my roof top bunk I looked outside to find......... The world had turned absolutely WHITE! The train was stopped at a station and my first views were of icicles frozen to another trains wheels. I stood in silence and thought about change. I had asked that I change to accept change and now I had change after change being thrust down my throat. Then I noticed that it was actually snowing...IT REALLY WAS SNOWING! I couldn't believe it! There was white everywhere! It was soooo beautiful, just so beautiful. I loved it. I sat and stared at it and repeated the words 'It's snowing' over and over. I then heard a strange sound. It was a foreign language and it wasn't Chinese. I walked down the carriage and found a Polish couple playing cards. They were so happy to see me and I was so happy to see them.

They came to join Israeli and me. We all stared at the unexpected white world outside our window. They too had come to Kunming for the promised warmth! And then it became even more unbelievable! Not only did he look like Leonardo Di Caprio and have many beautiful Chinese girls come to talk to him to see if it was actually 'him' (which it wasn't), but both he and his beautiful girlfriend could both actually speak back to them. When I say speak back, I mean in fluent Mandarin. I found out they had been studying Chinese for eight years and had been here in China for a year as part of their University Degree. How Wonderful and what a wonderful unexpected friendship! They too were going to the Xishuangbanna! Cheers N Beers toya...shane ______________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was The Man Himself! Prince and one of his most awesome albums ever. 'Graffiti Bridge' PS: Leonardo Di Caprio (or better known as Rafal from Poland) and me are actually still in touch. We have continued to email and text mail each other for the past seven years. We even tried many phone calls but his spoken English had become so bad that emails were so much easier. A few years after both he and Maggie returned to Poland they had a 'not so happy' break up. He went through a hard time for several years and then found new love. The job of his dreams soon followed and soon after.....Marriage! If I ever get around to finishing this bog I will then have the fun job of adding the small amount of photos I have.....one of them is a more recent one....a beautiful wedding photo!

Dream Train Journey

Dream Train Journey


Dream Train Journey (1)

Dream Train Journey (1)


Dream Train Journey (2)

Dream Train Journey (2)


Dream Train Journey (3)

Dream Train Journey (3)


Dream Train Journey (4)

Dream Train Journey (4)


Dream Train Journey (5)

Dream Train Journey (5)


Dream Train Journey (6)

Dream Train Journey (6)


Dream Train Journey (7)

Dream Train Journey (7)


Dream Train Journey (8)

Dream Train Journey (8)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Is It a Cold or a Hangover? I'm Sure It's a Cold!

HeyHey and a Big G'Day toya Tonight is my last night in Yangshuo. It seems that getting a bus out of here is also too much to ask. So my Israeli friend and I are off to Guilin tomorrow morning early to grab a bus or any other thing that moves that will take us to Guiyang or Kaili and then down to HEAVEN! We will then make our way to the Minority Area of the Yunnan Province near the Laos and Thailand boarder. It will be warm and it is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places on earth! I can't wait! Then maybe to Dali, Lijiang and then Xi'an. Then to Beijing before heading to Japan. Oh travel is sooo full of surprises! One minute you are doing this and then you are doing that....you know what...WHATEVER! It doesn't matter, the feeling is so awesome when you allow it to run through your mind and spirit. That's what it comes down to. I have learnt to say simply, WHATEVER! Oh and I think I have a cold. My head hurts a little and my nose is so stuffy. I'm sure it's not a hangover! Ha Ha! Luckily I still feel up to riding and partying. I've been taking heaps of vitamin C and eating heaps of fresh fruit and I'm sure over the next few days so maybe that will fight it off...hopefully! Today a few of us went us to Moon Hill. For me it was the second time, but it is so beautiful. I then took everyone the long way. Wonderful, just wonderful! Beers N Cheers toya...shane ___________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by a 'wonderful women of words'. Toni Childs and her 'Women's Boat'

Another Moon Hill Climb

Another Moon Hill Climb


Another Moon Hill Climb (1)

Another Moon Hill Climb (1)


Another Moon Hill Climb (2)

Another Moon Hill Climb (2)


Another Moon Hill Climb (3)

Another Moon Hill Climb (3)


Another Moon Hill Climb (4)

Another Moon Hill Climb (4)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

I Never Thought To Simply Change My Plans!

HeyHeyanda Big G'Day toya So now it's time to change plans! I'm going to go to Guilyang and then to Kilia for a few days. Can catch a bus right here in Yangshuo. There is supposed to be a heap of festivals in that area around this time of year. I spent a few hours today riding with a guy who has been reading about where to go next. I guess I still have a long way to go before I become a seasoned Back Packer. I had my heart so set on Kunming and the Xishuangbanna Region and never thought to simply change my plans and get there another way! I want to learn to become a more 'un-planned' traveller. One who changes for no other reason other than the thought 'why not go there or do that instead'. No more being frustrated at things I can't change or even think I can change. No more waiting for things to change so I can continue. Simply I shall learn to not have much of a plan and to change when that simple plan can't continue! From what I gather there is no better country to do this than the one I'm in now....Bloody China Mate! And it is a Minority Peoples Area just like the 'Banna' so it should be full of colour! I met an Israeli girl this evening and after a walk and a chat we both decided why the hell not as she is on her way to Kunming also. She, like me had planned to go across Guangxi to Kunming but after hearing about my fruitless efforts we both decided that we will grab a bus to Guilin and then the first train from there. Man, the scams here in Yangshuo are just too much. It makes me sad that I go to see a country and just continually get ripped off. I have been told and 'promised' that China really isn't like Yangshuo. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. There is enough English here to make things easy so I guess when I leave here, that is when things will begin to get really tough! Anyhow, I'm so looking forward to this adventure and everyone says it should be a great place to be for the Chinese New Year. I guess we shall see. Then it will be to Dali and Lijiang. I think I'll skip the Yangzi River Cruise and depending on time head to the Xishuangbanna or head straight to Xi'an to stay with Eves parents. Man, I must learn that plans will always change and sometimes are made to be changed! This is all part of travel! I had a beautiful walk today along the river side after finding the most awesome Chinese Tea...MMMmmm, Ginger mixed with honey and green tea. Oh YEAH! We all had pizza for tea this evening whilst watching 'There is Something About Mary'. What an awesome movie! It's really beginning to feel like I've come so far away yet only to live and eat the same as back home. I really wanted life to continue being like in Vietnam where things were so different. Here though it is wonderful and ever so beautiful, it's beginning to feel like every day is Saturday and every night is Saturday night. Fine for a short time but it's really not what I am after on this journey. What am I after? Can't say for sure, I guess that is what I am searching for. I now know that Yangshuo can give it to me. Oh yeah, the sun came out today. God it felt soooo good on my face but sadly it's now night and right now my feet are cooooold! Beers N Cheers toya...shane __________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by the most awesome DJ, Mr Seb Fontaine He was superstylin it on Prototype 2. Whatever! Just trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about. Superstylin it...huh! It's a Groove Armada song isn't it...ha ha! But I do love Seb and a few others. Thanks 'Fluffy One' for the MP3's all those years ago!

Misha Sandy (1)

Misha Sandy (1)


Misha Sandy (2)

Misha Sandy (2)


Misha Sandy (Holland)

Misha Sandy (Holland)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)