Thursday, September 26, 2013


We arrived in Kunming with the pouring rain. At this point we have been in China just under a month but we felt like we had been there for months.

Kunming, a promising city China

The traffic was horrendous - the airport is 25km away and it took us 2 hours to get there

We spent 3 nights in Kunming and we had heard there were pretty things to see but upon arriving and doing more research, everything is a bus ride away. With the cold weather (cold to us since we've been in summer weather since January in Fiji) and our lack of motivation, we just stayed close to the apartment we rented. Luckily there was a mall and Starbucks close by so we spent a lot of our time there. We would venture off to investigate weird places.

We saw a sign for "Modern Toilet Restaurant" and just had to check it out

There are toilets everywhere!

They are your seats at the, we did not eat here

The mornings were filled with watching this scene:

PE class

Click here to watch how coordinated they are.

We took one field trip to the Walmart (Paul will discuss in his review) and on the way back a couple of guys tried to pick Paul's pocket. They used super large tweezer looking things. Since the streets are narrow we had to walk single file for awhile and since most people don't think we are walking together these pick-pocketers weren't paying attention to me. I saw the one guy try to lift something from Paul's fleece unsuccessfully (while the other guy was flanked on the other side of Paul, watching). When I caught up to Paul, I asked if he felt anything. Once I started talking to Paul, the two guys fell back. After that experience, we decided we shouldn't leave the mall perimeter and stayed in the safety of the apartment until we left for Lhasa.

On September 6 we headed to Lhasa, Tibet. This is the Kunming airport - large with waxed floors for your reflection pleasure.


On August 30 we flew back to Guangzhou for one night before flying to Guilin. Since we arrived so late, I booked a room at a hotel connected to the airport. My mom had a couple extra days so she traveled to Guilin with us.

The airport was right across from the hotel - this was the view from our room

On the plane, the advertising game me high hopes to be really "wowed."

We arrived in Guilin and walked around the area. It was a quiet town but so far, it didn't feel like anything special. It really didn't come close to what we have been told about how beautiful and awesome Guilin is.

On the way to the hotel

Walking around Fir Lake

Sun Pagoda

Sun Pagoda (L) and Moon Pagoda (R); Locals fishing in Fir Lake

Moon Pagoda all lit up

Moon Pagoda and Sun Pagoda

To better understand the significance of the Sun and Moon Pagodas, I took a photo of the signage so I can type out the explanation for everyone:

The two pagodas are one of the most famous scenic spots in Guilin. Your tour will be complete when you visit the two pagodas which stand for the culture of Guilin. Your life will be complete when you take the lift to reach the top of the SunPagoda - the highest copper pagoda in the world and enjoy the wonderful scenery in Guilin. 

For the people who believe Buddhism, it is the place to cultivate the hearts. For the tourist, it is the place you have never experienced; you will get closer to the sky by taking the lift to the top of the Sun Pagoda; you can go through the channel under the world and enjoy a water world; you will breath the fresh air in the park and feel relaxed. 

Mom bought some fans

Another reflection shot of the pagodas - my life isn't complete because I did not go to the top of the Sun Pagoda

We continued to wander around and happened to find an evening "show" at Elephant Trunk Hill. We paid a ridiculous amount of money to see absolutely nothing. Below are just some snapshots of the lameness we wasted our time on. The reason we even decided to watch this is because my mom thought it was a different famous show by a different director.

Can you guess what the show was about? 

Paul was quivering with anticipation

1st stop: Weird movie about cartoon elephants flying around Guilin - I think they were talking about Dumbo

2nd stop: Mysterious village

This was it - lights and weird large bowling pins

I spent most of my time at stop #2 trying to take a picture of Paul by the "Mysterious Village" sign

3rd stop: Fairy dancers and magical queen riding an elephant - no, it's not real despite my mom thinking it was

4th stop: Elephant Trunk Hill - you can't tell because there are a bunch of stupid lights on the limestone cave

This photo isn't any better either - apparently you're supposed to come see this place during the day

It was just such a terrible waste of time, we asked to leave early. They brought us to their rice wine making facility for samples.

The next day we booked a tour to take a boat down the Li River towards Yangshuo - another place we had heard was just absolutely beautiful.

We had to drive about 1.5-2 hours to get to the river - pretty landscape

Entrance to the dock

These boats made Paul feel really safe considering they were made of PVC (plastic pipes)

He was disgusted with the moldy life jackets

Floatin' down the river

It was beautiful despite sharing the river with a bunch of other little boats

I imagine this is kind of what Halong Bay in Vietnam is like

Yay, we're not sinking!

We stopped for lunch and these were the chairs we had to sit in

Yeah, Paul fit

Right next to our dining table...

I wanted to buy this dragon egg and see if I could become the Mother of Dragons

We got back on the boat for some more scenic shots

Group photo!

Looking back

Mom and Paul and our boat captain

Another stop to take pics...but we weren't allowed past the barbed wire fence

Slinky shot

The karst hill (landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks including limestone) on the right is known as the "Nine Horse Nine Fresco Hill" - can you see the nine horses? 

Apparently one of the options was to dress up like a native princess and have a photo shoot

This is the scenery on the back of a 20RMB bank note

Mom's holding the 20RMB note to prove it

Our boat tour ended and we headed towards Yangshuo via bus

We got off the tour bus to take a local bus

And walked around town

It was very busy

Small streets

Stores with rifles

Fruit stand

We walked through the park and this man coming towards me started a conversation which ended with him yelling at me, "You're not American!!!"

Very green


We found a bus back to Guilin and wandered around the night market before calling it a night.

The night market wasn't anything special - just the usual booths of useless stuff

But there were fireworks!

It was pretty loud

The next day my mom headed back to Taipei while Paul and I ventured to see the Reed Flute Cave. Long story short, I bought tickets from the tour desk at our hotel and when I tried to switch them for admission tickets, the Reed Flute Cave folks said the tickets weren't valid. After a lot of convincing, they called the hotel for me to ask what the deal was. They ended up giving me the phone and the hotel "tour" desk lady said I had to buy tickets from them and that she would refund our money. So, we bought their tickets and proceeded into the caves. But as we walked in, the lights went out. I went towards the entrance to find out what the deal was. Apparently you can only go in and see the caves with a tour guide! Oh, thanks for telling us tour desk lady and ticket office lady. I demanded our money back and we took the first bus back to our hotel.

We took the local bus

And found the place

We preferred to see the parkplatz

This was as much as we saw of the area

On September 3, we headed to Kunming. 

At the Guilin Airport there is a large Cigarette Shop