Our 10 days long trip began right early in the morning, rushing for our 1000 train at 杭州东站, Hangzhou East Train Station, where we will be enduring a 9-hour long train ride to Kunming, Yunnan. Reaching the station, we stuffed ourselves with the classic Macdonalds’ big breakfast to stay full during the ride. Sadly, the big breakfast only managed to last us half the trip and we had to resort to buying some snacks onboard the train (some Popcorn! But it was really really bad).
Kunming is located high up the mountains with an altitude of about 2500m. Being so high up, it is blessed with cooling weather even during summer! When we were there, we had nice and cooling weather of low 20 degrees during the day and about 18 degrees at night. Meanwhile, Hangzhou faced the hottest temperature yet of 35 degrees. Kunming was really a perfect oasis to escape Hangzhou’s summer heat.
Finally reaching Kunming at 2100, we were both famished and tired. However, it was still another hour of traveling before we’ll reach our apartment to call it a night! Soo… the journey continues…
Our 2nd day was also a whole bunch of traveling, waking up at 7 am and heading to 昆明东客运站, Kunming East Bus Station, to catch a 3-hour bus ride to our first attraction 九乡, Jiuxiang, a wonderful natural creation of cave systems formed due to the rapidly flowing currents through this mountainous region. Stretching for about 3 kilometers, this was the biggest cave system I’ve ever been to.
Next on our list was 石林, Shilin, where we will be visiting its UNESCO heritage stone forest. Walking around the stone forest takes us back in time as though we were in the stone ages. This unique stone formation was formed after many years of wind and water erosion leaving this spectacular forest of stone. Not knowing that this stone forest was actually very big, we only gave ourselves 3 hours here and barely had enough time to clear just one of the forests. We chose to explore the biggest stone forest here with the iconic Shilin icon carved onto one of the rock surfaces. Planning to avoid the Chinese crowd so that we can take nice pictures without getting blocked by them, we chose to walk a less popular steeper route. It was not long before we started to regret our decision as we actually got lost in this massive stone forest and it took us about another hour before we found our way out, ending up at the other end of the park and almost missing our last bus back! We were so relieved when we finally headed out of the park and back to our apartment to rest from our long but fulfilling day.
Mandatory jump shot
After a rather fulfilling day 2, day 3 was a more relaxing day. We spend most of the time visiting the town of Kunming and checking out the cityscape from the neighboring western hills. Not knowing what we were in for, this would be our first trekking experience at such a high altitude. We first took a chairlift up to a station almost at the top before a short trek to the summit of the western hills. The trek was rather easy but due to the thinner air at this altitude, we were quickly short of breath and had to take a few breaks along the way up. Nonetheless, the hike was a good warmup for the days to come in Lijiang where we will be having trekking at a much higher altitude way up the mountains.
Finally, we say farewell to Kunming for now as we catch an overnight sleeper train to Lijiang!!