On Saturday Michael and I visited a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Shilin (or the Stone Forest). It is a a massive collection of grey limestone pillars that have been split and eroded by wind and rain.
Our friend, Colin, had arranged for a driver to drive us to and from this place and it made for a fun, fun day!!!
We met him at 9:00am and began the 1-1/2 hour ride southeast of Kunming. The trip there was fairly uneventful and we soon joined the hoards of people entering the forest. These were some of the scenes that we were met with….
It was a fairly grey sort of day so the colors aren’t as good as they could have been, but, on the other hand, it was not nearly as hot as it could have been.
There were tons of tourists around, but we had read a review that said the way to get away from people was to find a small track that went UP…. Sure enough, a little climb and we were virtually all by ourselves. The only people that we saw were five 20-somethings…..
We loved the shapes that you could find in the rocks, from this “flower”….
At one point, we got off of the main track and followed a footpath down to this corn field. Can you imagine trying to plow this area with all of the exposed rocks??
Just as we started walking out of the forest, the heavens opened up and it started pouring down rain. We were SO glad that it held off as long as it did.
We found our driver again and he started out on the trip home. We couldn’t figure out why he would not turn on his windshield wipers, but he only used them sporadically.
We were reminded again that traffic is fluid in China and that just about anything goes. At one point, there were two large trucks, side by side ahead of us and another truck coming toward us. Not to be deterred, out driver split the difference and passed in between all three of them!!!!
We tried to enter an expressway, but there was a huge traffic jam at the entrance to the toll gate. People had left their cars and were having an enjoyable chat with their fellow travelers. When we found out that they had closed the expressway (still do not know why), our driver simply made a U-Turn and headed a different direction.
This new route added about an hour to the trip, but we got to see some new things as we drove thru a more rural area. The first thing that we noticed was that EVERY inch of land was cultivated. Some of the crops were planted on steep hills, some under the highway over-passes, and some along the shoulder of the road.
Every so often there would be a small track leading from the road and up the mountain, and this would deliver the worker at their small field. When it started raining, we saw lots of workers climbing down these tracks, with their mattock hoe over their shoulder, probably glad for a reason to rest!!
Sometime during this leg of the journey, we went thru a toll booth, but I still cant tell you what road it was for. I have since read that the Chinese government is cracking down on illegal toll booths and perhaps that was one.
One of the roads had a 2 block stretch that was a mixture of huge potholes and mounds of dirt. I felt really bad that he had to drive his nice car over such rough terrain.
We had a wonderful day and ended our time with a meal at Salvador’s……this time we had HAMBURGERS with LOTS of protein!!!!!