By 11 pm last Saturday I managed to find a hotel, with a bath no less! Nothing like total immersion when one hasn't washed for a few days. The next day (Sunday)was a day of rest. I could hardly move. Even stepping off the pavement was painful but by Monday I'd recovered and went to see the Stone Forest, at Shilin, about 120 kms outside Kunming.
I had to procure yet another expensive taxi because the buses were too complicated. The Stone Forest is a huge area of stunning karst rocks that have been split and eroded by wind and rain, forming pillars and fantastically shaped rock formations. I had only explored a tiny corner of the 'forest' before the heavens opened, followed by thunder and lightening. Throughout there are little, narrow (in some cases, very narrow) and steep paths and steps and these became very slippery with the rain, plus I had no coat. So, after about 2 hours I called it a day, returned to the taxi (which had waited) and returned to Kunming.
I visited a branch of WalMart in Kunming and got lost in it - not a difficult thing to do - the place is a labyrinth and I reckon that this is the future of shopping in China. The small, sad-looking, privately-owned shops, which don't look as though they sell anything from one year to the next will go, swallowed up, as everywhere, by the conglomerates and replaced instead by the American model - capitalism with very Chinese characteristics!! WalMart was heaving, just as MacDonalds and KFC are always heaving and this fact will not be lost on the Chinese.
The next day I flew back to Guilin and then to Yangshuo to be reunited with my nemesis, the monster blue bag which I had left behind and tried to forget about. It was as big and as heavy and as much of a millstone as ever, causing grief to all who try to lift it I shall endeavour to dump it again at the first opportunity, probably in Beijing. Yangshuo was hot and sunny (which was a bit of a first) and humming. It's the height of the tourist season and everywhere was packed. It was buzzy, in the high 20s at midnight and very laid-back and good to be back again, almost certainly for the last time. I also found a gem of a hotel - The Bamboo House - witha bath, free internet and, arguably, the most comfortable beds in China, all for a mere 10 pounds a night!
On Thursday, my rock-filled bag in tow, I set off for Hainan Island for a bit of rest and relaxation and to get my visa extended. The 30 days I was given in Hong Kong are up and so long as my visa doesn't actually expire (as happened last time), I can get it extended for another 30 days, which should take me comfortably to the 8th September when I depart (visas willing) for Moscow and home. So, Friday was spent negotiating the extension, which will take until next Friday (13th!) but shouldn't be a problem.
That brings me almost up to date, so will write more tomorrow.