Hope everyone's well, now in Yunnan province, China. Had a little change of plan, as once we read about Yunnan being the most diverse province with so much to see and do we decided to take a small detour before going to Hong Kong in 3 weeks time.
Now we had been a little worried about traveling around China especially as we heard from other travelers it was difficult as virtually no one speaks English. This is sooo very true and the phrase book, pen and paper have become our best friends. We've managed ok, though to be honest the hardest part has been finding our hostels once getting off the bus. Street names are all in Chinese and asking for directions has often sent us on a wild goose chase.
Now i have to dedicate the next section to Chinese hygiene, Clare found this out first hand once we'd crossed over the Chinese border and went to the toilet just after immigration. After 2 months in Asia we'd come to terms with not putting toilet paper in the toilet and mastered the technique of using the squat toilets. However these had always been in privacy of our own little cubical so as a westerner we could cope (just about). However Chinese toilets are another matter, yes they have cubicals but these don't have doors and come up to about my waist height (difficult for Clare). Also they are an open pit which you have to stand across to try and aim. So at immigration Clare got a bit of a shock when she walked in on someone mid no 2. We also find it highly embarrassing seeing numerous bums in the air as we walk in the toilet and in fact the other day stopping for a break on the bus journey Clare had to shout across the open bathroom for me not to turn around she hadn't finished and i'd get a glimpse. She wasn't at all concerned about bearing all to everyone behind her. We were in fits for the rest of the journey.
Spitting: the Chinese have the most awful habit of spitting. Spitting at all is bad enough but the noise that they make while doing it has made us both want to gag and in fact we're both worried that sooner or later our gag reflex will take over, lets hope i never have to write about that!!!
We also get stared at a hell of a lot which we could accept when we were in places where the whole time we were there we only saw 2 other westerners (Yuanyang and Jianshui) but no this isn't the case. Clare now plays the game of doing a big wave to get them out of the trans we've put them in or just saying 'what you looking at' which as you can imagine makes no difference what so ever. Clare nodded one time and that seemed to do the job so now we stand tall, look them in the eye, which i can never do as im constantly wearing sunglasses (lasered eyes) and make a firm nod.
Ok back to where we've been. First we traveled to Yuanyang to visit the rice terraces (see pics) where we spent the day admiring the beautiful man made landscape. On the way to Yuanyang we were a little concerned as we had to show our passports a total of 4 times (4 hour journey) at check points. We thought maybe this was things to come but luckily have been ok since. We then visited Jianshui an old town with some amazing architecture. We stayed in a beautiful Chinese style room with dark wooden furniture and ate breakfast in a traditional living room. Next we traveled to Kunming, nothing much to say here about the provincial capital apart from all we seemed to do was get lost and wonder around trying to flag down a taxi which would then turn us down when we showed them our hostel and road name (in Chinese). It was a very frustrating couple of days. We are now in Dali (further north), will update soon
Love to all H x x