Chapter 1: Kunming Rocks…Literally

So I know I said that I’d update regularly or something along those lines, but honestly, taking a tour is tiring. Like any tour, our days begin at early hours like 6 or 7 AM (tomorrow my morning call is 5:30 AM). But, you get a lot more background on what your seeing by a trusted local guide. My guide in Kunming was this guy named “A Yong.” Nice man, although sometimes he could go on for quite a while, even when everyone was asleep on the bus.

Anyway, what is there to see in Yunnan? Well, according to Mr. Guide Man, “you come to Yunnan to see rocks.” And rocks there are. Big rocks, little rocks, green/blue/red rocks, rocks hanging precariously over your head, rocks that look like elephant heads.

Rocks Rocks Rocks.

Precarious Rocks

Rocks that look like elephants

The first sight we saw was aptly named the “Stone Forest.” This is a UNESCO World Heritage site; the area used to be entirely underwater, until a couple million years ago, when it dried up. All the stones therefore are built up like towers, and the sides had been eroded away from the waters that used to be there. There are around 30 different paths inside this forest, so getting lost is pretty easy. Thus, watch out for members of your group; don’t want to go losing people.

Scene from the Stone Forest

There’s actually a big Stone Forest and a Little Stone Forest. Our tour took about 2 hours to see the main sights, which consisted of the above three pictures. Half the fun of going is looking at the rocks and imagining what they look like, and then convincing your party that they see what you’re seeing.

Guide: This looks like a famous general from The Three Kingdoms Period. Me: It looks like a rock.

In addition to looking at rocks that used to be underwater, we looked at rocks that were in caves. Named the Jiuxiang Scenic Area, this place is about an hour outside of Kunming city and well, is entirely full of caves and river water. You can go on a short ride on the river, though when I went it was raining and so we had to cut the scenic river scene short.

The water is supposed to be green. I find that hard to believe

The area we went to is called Diehong Bridge. It’s about 2 miles long, so wear good shoes, or you can hire a “litter” (I had to look that up…shhh), which is a chair that’s carried on the shoulders of 2 or more people (in this case 2), to carry you through the caves. I, being crazy and well, “economical” would be the proper term, decided to get my exercise for the next year and walk the entire path.

And oh boy was that a journey. But I got some nice pictures of…rocks and water.

Inside the Caves

Dueling Waterfalls

We also went to the Yunnan Military Academy, which was an interesting visit. This used to be a military school, but it’s now a museum. It’s free, and if you have some free time and are looking for something not rock related, this place is worth checking out.

We also went up the West Hills, which is located a little outside of the actual city. The hills are known for it’s temples and mountainside carvings, which the original monks did while hanging upside down on the mountain, while blindfolded so that the falling debris wouldn’t get into their noses.

I know. It’s insane.

The West Hills are also known for the Dragon Gate, and the Dragon Ball. No, it is not Goku and his friends fighting off some over 9000 evil. The Dragon Ball is actually this tiny round stone that’s built into the Dragon Gate. Touching it grants you good luck and a prosperous future. Actually, most of the statues and carvings are supposed to grant you some sort of luck once you touch it, whether it is luck in money, health, or beauty. It’s quite funny.

I forgot my camera that day, so I actually don’t have any pictures. But, my friend does. Once I coerce her to uploading photos I’ll share them here.

So that’s what I did with my time in Kunming. Next up is our tour of Dali, complete with beautiful old buildings and a way talkative tour guide. As well as a stint of feeling like I was in Indiana Jones, on my way down a bumpy road of adventure.

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