I arrived in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province without any issues. At first, I was concerned about entering China with only my China ID that is issued to most HK citizens, but it turned out to be straightforward. Just as well as from what I have heard, getting a visa for China is a bit painful.
I have wanted to visit Yunnan and neighbouring provinces for a while now. These are relatively sparsely populated provinces with supposedly spectacular scenery with lots of opportunities for outdoor activities as well as getting away from the crowds (if that is at all possible in China). And after four months in southeast Asia, I was ready for cooler weather. The Tiger Leaping Gorge trek has also been on my wish list for a while. So with Yunnan being only about 600km from Hanoi, it was a logical next destination for me.
It’s been 7 years or so since I’d been in mainland China so a lot has changed. Things do happen fast in China. Coming from Vietnam, Kunming feels modern, efficient, clean and quiet! The roads are good and getting into town from the airport was painless. My spoken Chinese (Mandarin) is pretty non-existent, but like my father suggested, if in doubt, just bust out the pen and paper and write the Chinese characters to convey the meaning. So far, that has worked wonders, but hopefully I won’t have to do that for very long.
I will be travelling for 10 days with Brigitte and Saeed. I met both in 2010 in Iran. At the time, I was looking for a travel companion, and Brigitte (from Vancouver) responded to my thread on a travel forum. We corresponded by email for a couple of months prior to visiting Iran. We got on well right from the start and have kept in touch since. Saeed is Iranian, and we met him while visiting his home town Tabriz.
We decided not to linger in Kunming so instead took the bus to Dali the day after I arrived in China. I was keen to get to Dali, where it is quieter and less intense. It only has a population of 40,000 and the old city of Dali is small enough to explore on foot. The town lies on the western edge of Erhai Lake at an altitude of 1900m, with a backdrop of the 4000m-tall Cang Shan. Sounds perfect.
WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and a lot of other sites are blocked in China. I managed to unblock WordPress to post, but I haven’t been able to post images and since I’m not a geek, this will have to do!