Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Into the Stone Forest

It was a fairly relaxing day. The only thing on my agenda was to see Shilin, the "Stone Forest." It's about a 120 kilometers outside of Kunming. Luckily there are direct buses that go to the area and it was fairly easy to get to.

Shilin was on my agenda when I first thought about what I was going to do in China. I thought it would be similar to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar, which I saw a documentary on and found quite fascinating. I believe both were formed in the same manner of erosion, however, I think Shilin is considerably smaller in comparison and quite a bit more popular with tourists.

Unfortunately, the Shilin "Stone Forest" is so modified for accessibility, that it loses its natural appeal. Pathways run throughout the park, often right through the formations. A couple view points have been installed right on top of the formations where mostly domestic tourists gather shoulder to shoulder to try and get a good birdseye view and a photo of themselves with the formations in the background. For what it is, it's quite overpriced. So far it's the most I've paid for admission, even more than The Great Wall.

Perhaps the high ticket cost was to pay for the dancers. The park had two stages where the Yi people, dressed in traditional garb, performed various styles of dance. I took a few photos and hopped back on the bus to Kunming.

Later I met up with Ed and Christine, who I've now met up with in three places in China. We went out for "across the bridge" noodles, a speciality among these parts. I'm not sure it was my favorite dish, but it's always fun to try the local cuisine. We finished the night off with some ice cream and smoothies.

Shilin Stone Forest:

Yi People:


Anonymous said...

Too much man made. 30 years ago I took a group of Americans there and had a great time only with a bit of regret: I didn't have a camera. Way to go Marko! Can't wait for the next set of pictures.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Marko for keeping us posted and intrigued with your travels through China. Memories to cherish especially when you have the opportunity to visit a monk's house or spend quality time with the locals. The most generous people in life are often those who have very little to offer and yet they make you feel so welcome.

I wanted to ask you about your accommodation - do you mainly stay in pre-booked hotels and hostels or do you just turn up and book on the spot...? Just wondering how easy or difficult it is to organize the accommodation. Great to hear that you are able to hook up with other travellers :-)

Please continue with the beautiful and inspiring photos.


Anonymous said...

Reposting a comment as unsure the previous one went through... Thank you Marko for sharing your stories and inspiring photos with us. Memories to cherish especially the special ones when you get invited to some locals or monks' homes. The most generous people in life are often those who have little to offer and yet they make you feel so welcome. Question for you: Is it easy to sort out the accommodation ? Do you have to book hostels/hotels in advance or do you just turn up ? Continue to enjoy your travels and keep smiling :-)


Unknown said...

Hello Marko, you took great pictures from the Stone forest, which looks overwhelming with wonder! How far close and how high could you get to the rocks that are shown on the pictures taken by you? How much did you pay for getting in this forest? What is about going to the Li River near Guilin?

Marko said...

Liping, I can't image how difference all of China would have been 30 years ago. I talked to a girl who came to Kunming for the first time in 5-6 years and she barely recognizes it.

Veronique, I've been doing a bit of both. If there are a few places to stay in the area, I might just show up without booking ahead. If there is a place that sounds really nice, I might boot it ahead of time. I've been using hostelworld to book some places. The place I'm going to next I just sent them an e-mail asking if they could keep a room for me and they responded fairly quickly with confirmation.

Aarmaan, thank you! You can get very close to the rocks. Sometimes they are pretty high, over 30 meters. Some paths go right up the rocks, as you can see one rock has a viewing platform right on top. I suppose you could even climb the rocks, but I think security would prevent that. I also think it would be pretty hard as the rocks are quite sharp. I paid 175 yuen to get into the stone forest, which is just under 30 dollars. It's pretty expensive for china standards. I'm going to Guilin next and will take some pictures of the Li River.

Anonymous said...

Not even the locals could recognize the change. Modernization. The only way to see the natural form is not to follow the crowd and get lost.

Take your time in Youngshou area and rent a bike. Hay, check your bike seat this time. Ha, ha... Oh, there are two kinds of boats down the Li River-the Chinese tourists and the westerners'. Price is different. Check it out.


Unknown said...

Marko, hi, I am sure you are ok! I read in news about a magnitude- 6.9 quake in western China's Qinghai province today. I hope you are far away from the earth quake centre.
I wish you the best,

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