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Hitchhiking from Shangri La to Lijiang...

sunny 30 °C

So we set off. I couldn't stop smiling and giggling, which I attributed to nerves and lack of sleep. Stef however was as cool as a cucumber, him being a hitchhiking pro an' all, and he was confident we'd have no problems getting to Lijiang by 4pm. We'd told the US / UK ladies, who were getting the bus to Lijiang, that we'd see them later, and now we reallllly wanted to get to Lijiang before them. :D It was a beautiful sunny day and the view from the side of the dusty highway was quite nice.

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So we walked for maybe 20 minutes or so before a chap in a van, with no seats in the back, stopped for us. Stef did his best (and amusing) hitchhiking routine, involving lots of small questions and big hand gestures!

Stef: ''Lijiang?? You go to Lijiang?? We come with you?? little bit? small bit? We come? Ok? We get in? ''

It worked anyways, yer man let us in to the back of his van but said he could only take us to the intersection as he worked in the hospital nearby. ''Grand job'', we said.
Yer man didn't say much, but he did offer Stef a smoke. Not me though. Apparently women don't smoke, or maybe aren't supposed to in China. So he brought us maybe 10 minutes or so down the road to the big roundabout/intersection, where we got out and perched ourselves on the corner, munched on some nuts and stuck our thumbs out every now and then when cars went by.
(I thought of that Felix the Housecat track - ''(Standing on the corner) Watching cars go by'', numerous times. :)

Finally some cool dude wearing a cap and sunglasses, smoking a cigarrette and carrying a tray of red bull in the back seat gave us a lift. (I paid special attention to what was in the back seat of everyone's car - juuuussst in case. ;) ) This guy wasn't going far either but he was pretty chatty and offered us a smoke and we attempted to chat to him using various apps and bad pronunciation. We told him we were on our honeymoon for a bit of a laugh. HA! :D He brought us another 15 minutes or so down the road before he had to go to turn up another road towards some big pipes to go to work.

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We were only just ouf of that car when another dude in a white van pulled over and after Stef's routine, offered to take us another bit of the way. ''This is great'' I thought.... ''and so easy''!
This dude had fake grass on his dashboard, Chinese cowboy music playing loudly and a SAWEEEET pair of blue shoes on him. We didn't understand him at all really, but he stopped to do his shopping in this tiny village for a while and left us alone in the van. LOL. We gave him a hand getting his shopping into the boot. I really thought this guy must have been going to take us a long way, seeing as how he stopped to do his shopping and all!

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He dropped us off at the DEATHZONE - aka an odd mall full of animal furs, bones, horns, gizzards and all sorts of other weird shit. Grim. Anyway too many buses were pulling in in where we were standing so we mosied on down the road til Stef spotted a ''great hitching spot'' down the road. I lolled.

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We waited here for about 15 minutes before 2 young lads in a car picked us up and gave us a lift all the way past Qiataou! ''BACK IN THE GAME'', I thought. We were in the backseat yapping away to ourselves and probably should have made more of an effort to talk to our drivers but were having a good laugh so didn't really think of it. We were mega lucky too as it pissed rain most of the time that we were in their car, and then just stopped before we got out. :D

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Once again, the minute we got out of their car, we got picked up by an old dude in a truck. This was a mixed blessing as the truck was very slow and lost us a lot of time in our effort to get to Lijiang by 4pm. It didn't help that he got stopped by the Police and fined for not wearing a seat belt. :D He dumped us off at the outskirts of Lijiang and Stef did his routine on this little dude who was driving a tiny trailer. It was so funny. This guy did not want to take us at all but Stefan kept going with his ''little bit pleaseeeee'' routine. Who could resist his handsome face, big cheesy grin and boundless enthusiasm? Well not this guy! ;) Yer man caved in and let us in to his trailer and dropped us about 100 metres up the road before dumping us out again. BWAHAHAHAHAHA
We thanked him profusedly and he drove off. Then we saw him at the traffic lights!! GOING IN OUR DIRECTION!! So Stef points at him as if to say ''you ARE going our way? Why did you dump us off??''
SOooooo yer man let us back into his trailer again for another 5 minutes! He ditched us again just outside the old town and Stef unwittingly took the guys water bottle from the trailer, thinking it was his own. ahahahhaahhaha. I'd say yer man was thinking..''Robbing my feckin water now as well??? WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT FROM ME YOU FOREIGNERS??!!''..

We wandered on and stopped for some momos and who should walk by? Only the 3 girls! They were pretty shocked to see us and I think mega impressed. ;) We agreed to meet up later but I got the impression they were getting into nighttrain mode and we mightn't see them that night. We trundled back to Soh's place for the night and I checked in. We had a wash and went for some food and then met the rest of the gang at Panba hostel before another night of singing and bongoing in Soh's Private lounge. It was great fun. I'd say that was probably the best travelling day I've had on this trip. It was brilliant craic. I was pretty sad to have to say goodbye to my awesome Dutch friend and would have liked to have gone hitchhiking again the next day with him to Lugu lake. However we all have different paths to take and mine involved sorting out my feckin visa extension before I got kicked out of China. : )

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Posted by squeakylee 05:44 Archived in China Tagged la highway sunshine lijiang shangri hitchhiking dusty routine stef's hilarious Comments (0)

Back to Kunming

KINGDOM OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE!

sunny 32 °C

Got my visa extension sorted in 1 day with the help from a lovely girl called Shin from the hostel. Then I boarded the night bus to Kunming. This bus was unpleasant. There seemed to always be a smell of something gross, either piss or smoke, and I kept rolling towards the middle of the bus so I was tres uncomfortable and couldn't sleep much. I read my kindle until it died then saw the most awesome electrical storm ever with whopper thunder and lightning everywhere.
Got a few hours kip and woke up in a different Kunming bus station than I'd arrived at the last time so was totally confused. My phone was dead and my kindle was dead and I didn't have the hostel address written in Chinese so felt a bit fecked. I knew I could always go back and stay in Cloudland hostel if I could find it again, but I had booked into Upland hostel so felt I should at least try and find that place first.

A young Chinese man took pity on me and escorted me all the way to my hostel via the bus and walking a while out of his way! Another example of Chinese kindness. :) Awwww - so nice!! Once I'd checked in, I wanted to go straight to bed but there were no sheets on it and the room hadn't been cleaned yet, so I took a shower, ate a mega breakfast and decided to go to the DWARVE'S EMPIRE - i.e. KINGDOM OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE in Kunming.

An English lad I met had told me about this place that is populated only by little people who had been ostracised or neglected by the Chinese Government and society, so had decided to set up their own community. Now it is, in essence, a theme park, and the lads perform a few times a day for tourists; singing, dancing and breakdancing etc. So obviously this type of theme park has attracted much controversy. A lot of people are of the opinion it's exploitation and shouldn't be allowed to continue. Now I'm sure performing daily for tourists is not exactly what these little people want. I reckon they would appreciate well paid jobs, and respect from normal Chinese society, however that's not the way China works. They maintain no one will give them jobs and people judge them and treat them differently. It seems this is as good as it gets for these lads. They are paid well, they live together in a non-judgemental society of their own people and are getting on with life.

I was unsure whether or not to go to the park as I wasn't sure if going increases the exploitation of the little people? or if a visit gives them the chance to earn a few bob? However when I heard that the King of the Little People rides a tiny 3-wheeled motorbike and wears a gold silk cape, all reason went out the window. I had to go!! :D

I asked the girls in reception how to get there (I'm still not sure exactly where it was) and they told me to get 2 buses and a minibus. I couldn't find the first bus so walked to where the 2nd bus should be. I hopped on it, instantly fell asleep and missed the stop where I was supposed to get off. Oops. I got off somewhere in the middle of nowhere that still managed to have lots of taxi touts. 1 taxi dude wouldn't leave me alone and wanted 100 yen to bring me to the Empire. I told him to bog off and bought an icecream from a guy who pointed me towards some small minibuses down the street. A bossy lady shoved me on to the bus near the front and off we went.
The bus driver kept taking his eyes off the road to turn around and stare at me. I was like - ''arrrrghhh - watch the feckin road!!''

Anyways so the bus dumps me off at a fork in the road with a sign that has a butterfly on it and another sign that has the Chinese characters that match the one on my piece of paper (the reception girls had written it out for me) spelling out Dwarf Kingdom. I didn't know how far away it was though. hmmmm I decided to walk a bit even though it was ROASTING and I'd blow dried my hair. (THE ONE TIME!! ;) ) Anywho then some old dude offered me a lift up the road but wanted money. I bargained him down to a couple of euro and off we went. I was so glad I got the lift. The road was endless (well obviously it did end eventually), and was pretty windy and deserted.

I got to the theme park and there was a whole group of Chinese Female tourists there who were all dressed the exact same. It was weird. They seemed to all leave as as soon as I got there, which made me pretty much the only visitor there. :D LOL . There was a small butterfly park attached to the theme park so decided I'd wander into it. It took all of 10 minutes to admire the nice flowers and butterflys. There was a good view of the Kingdom up on the hill though.

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Then I walked up a deserted road to a practically deserted arena with an empty stage, lots of benches in front of it, some hard seating at the back (all empty too) and a host of fabulously fake mushroom houses behind the stage.

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There were a few stalls around the place selling ice cream and trinkets. ''Hmmm'', I thought, ''this is rather grim!''
I wandered in and out of the mushroom houses and Ni'Hao'd a few tiny people walking around the place, then went up to the big castley thing to have a look, but there was no-one really there either.

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''Hmmmm'' - Nothing was happening, there was no one performing, and everyone seemed to be having a siesta. I was the only one there. I sat around eating an icepop for a while thinking about Life and Travels and What Indeed had led me to this place. Yes - it was my own twisted sense of what was awesome that led me here. It didn't quite seem so awesome now though. After an hour, I was still the only tourist in town and was becoming a mini celebrity myself around the place. I decided to call it quits and head back to my hostel, when all of a sudden I heard someone on a microphone!! Then a small trolley load of tourists went by me back up the hill!
''Wooohooo!!'', I thought, ''the show might still go on!''
Annnnd it nearrllly did. But then it didn't.
I bought another icepop (I was starving at this stage) and sat with the 10 other Chinese tourists who'd arrived. I played basketball with a tiny kid and generally waited for the magic to happen!

AND IT DID! Although admittedly not for another hour. We were all herded around the corner to see a small man climb a very tall ladder. LOL. Then 2 small men rode around a big cage on motorbikes! These lads didn't look happy at all but it was very impressive. After this we were brought back to the main arena for a magnificently LOUD Cabaret Show.

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All the little people came out on to the stage steps at the start.

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They were introduced by 2 TINY people, who must have been children. Then the fun started. A group of little people dressed as cavemen and cavewomen came out and did a thunderous dance, a small man with big lungs belted out a whopper of a tune, another small man bumped and grinded and breakdanced his way around the stage to 2 Unlimited's - No Limits. He was bustin' some moves, and was definitely eyeing me up as he did his sexy grinding and booby touching! ;) The King also appeared, flanked by his two guards, and there was a big speech, but I didn't understand a word of it.

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Then after this, a guy walked and ran across a tight rope with no safety net underneath! There was more singing and dancing and it all ended with the lads out on stage again. I was disappointed the King didn't ride the motorbike but ye can't have everything!

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All in all - what an evening! What a show!! I am definitely glad I went and I thought most of the lads there looked very happy and content. They were all laughing and joking and smoking and forgetting their cues to go onstage and then slagging each other off and stuff. It all looked very jovial. :)

I got a minibus back to Kunming,

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and stuffed my face with noodles at the bar while some Englishman kept drumming his fingers on my table til I acknowledged and spoke to him.

I also decided this evening to go to Bali for the next leg of my trip and booked a flight for next week. Bali will do sure. ;) Be nice to have a proper holiday holiday.. :D
Can't wait to feel the hot sand through my fingers!

Posted by squeakylee 01:55 Archived in China Tagged people little kingdom kunming empire dwarves Comments (0)

23 Hour Train Journey from Kunming to Guilin

written in the present tense...

sunny 30 °C

The music is soooooo loud and I've had my earplugs in all day. The A/C is on full blast and I'm freezing. Plus I'm getting bitten alive by bed bugs. AND IT SMELLS.

However I have written all my blog up until today and a lovely lady in the bunk next to me poked me awake to give me an apple.

WHOOP!

Posted by squeakylee 02:51 Archived in China Tagged train stinks Comments (0)

Guilin

It's too hot and humid to do anything...

overcast 37 °C

Today I went to the mall for a bit of cool air. Then I sat around, sweated and chatted to 2 Swedish lads. They looked very like the last 2 Swedish lads I met, plus they had taken the same overland route as the other 2 Swedes - Russia, Mongolia, China etc. Must be a regular Swedish trip.

Later I felt a bit ronery so rang John S to see how he was doing and had a great auld waffle. He riled me up no end and I went back into the hostel bar and ended up playing drinking / card games with 4 lovely US people and 1 realllly racist 21 year old plump chick from the UK. (Good lord love - tone it down a bit - you've been here wayyy tooo long. Go back home there to your fish n' chips!) (That's probably not fair, but she was a d*ckhead.)
Got drunk with the lads. Had a blast. :)

Posted by squeakylee 02:55 Archived in China Tagged hot guilin too handle Comments (0)

Xingping

sunny 36 °C

Got a bus to Yangshuo - felt so happy on this bus. The tunes were blarin, the sun was out and the scenery was amazeballs.

Guy selling guns on the side of the road
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I arrived in Xingping about 1pm, dumped my stuff in a whopper hostel called ''This Old Place'', which was so cute and had such helpful staff, and I rented a mountain bike and went to grab a bite to eat. An older US lady joined me for lunch - which was fine except she ate soooo slooowly. She was just picking at her food. I'd eaten my sandwich and she was still picking at her carrots and rice. All I could think of was:
''HURRY UP LADY, I'VE RENTED A BICYCLE AND I'M ITCHIN' TO GET WHEELIN'''
20 minutes later nothing had changed. She'd still eaten nothing and now all that was in my mind was:
''BICYCLE
BICYCLE
I WANT TO RIDE MY BIIIISICKLLLE'' (Queen)
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Eventually she said, ''oh you can go if you like, it rains every day at about 4pm''.
I was like, ''WHAT AND YOU'VE KEPT ME HERE YACKING FOR AN HOUR!!?? IT'S 3pm!!''
But I remained calm and what came out was ''ok so, I suppose I better go if it's going to rain''.

PHEWF! Yep! I still have no patience people - I've learnt nothing. . :D ;)

So after a few hours bicycling around and taking in the whopper scenery, riding over a dead snake and discovering the secret cave was closed, I headed back to the hostel for a shower. Although dunno why I bothered, as soon as you're out of the shower, you're covered in sweat again. Nice.

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Watched Momento in the hostel with a big pizza. :D

Next day I rented a bike again. I didn't want to hike anywhere as I'd had enough hiking for a while, plus the humidity was wayy too much for me.
Today I crosssed the river and am pretty sure I took the wrong road as I ended up on the rockiest dirtrack ever going up and down through the hills of Xingping for ages. It was great craic - pushing the bike up the hill, and bombing it down the other side over the slippiest rocks ever. I'm astonished I didn't go over the handlebars a few times. Twas more thrilling than a bungee jump.

I got totally lost in the hills for an hour or so and got the compass out. I was soaked in sweat and then it started raining. But the rain was a delicious relief. It was brilliant. I saw loads more lovely green mountains, tiny villages, gorgeous valleys, a cool greeny-blue lake and lots of dirt roads.

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Back at the hostel I sat up on the roof with an Ozzie couple and had a Jim Beam and Coke watching the sunset.

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Posted by squeakylee 03:02 Archived in China Tagged mountains scenery pizza xingping whopper Comments (0)

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