As planned we caught the sleeper bus last night at 6pm to Kunming. These buses are unlike any others we have travelled on elsewhere and an experience I’m not in a hurry to repeat. The first impression of the bus was quite good. Brand new and clean and tidy I guess our expectations for the journey were quite high.
The beds were low down and so so narrow. Luckily we were on the bottom all next to one another. Although we have got used to close proximity living in Asia and feel perfectly comfortable with it, the fact that many Chinese men in particular, smoke constantly and think nothing of spitting on the floor made me glad to be in between Simon and the window.
The endless films and karaoke also are a problem for some travellers we have spoken to but I like it and the noise didn’t bother me. In the end the night, although pretty uncomfortable passed uneventfully and we arrived at 4.30am but stayed on the bus until around 6am. We stopped off a hotel and grabbed a coffee, whilst Simon went to the train station to get our tickets to Guilin. At 100 quid for 4 soft sleeper tickets they aren’t cheap but as we will be leaving at 5.30 this afternoon for our longest journey yet of 22 hours we decided the extra expense was worth it.
We checked into Cloudland Hostel and basically crashed out for the day. I spent most of it asleep and Simon and the kids watch a few films. We send a few emails and update the website. (Our daily jobs) Our warm clothes are all fairly grubby and stink of cigarette smoke. For 2 previous nicotine lovers we have become a bit intolerant of fags in China but I think this is because so many people smoke and everywhere.
It’s now 8pm and we have been on the train for just over 2 hours. We have passed some of the most amazing scenery on the way. The most interesting thing we see are the so called “Stone forests” of Shilin. As far as the eye can see, the land is covered with stone “stalagmites”, a massive collection of grey limestone pillars eroded by the wind and rain. It is very green with red sandstone earth, miles of flat rice paddy fields and imposing mountain ranges. Really so beautiful, in a dramatic, wild and windswept way.
We have a long talk on the way and discuss our trip so far. Between the four of us we remember everywhere we have stayed and have a great time remembering the highlights. Simon says his favourite place was Khao Sok National Park in Thailand. The kids agree on the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia and I’m torn between Varanasi in India and Siem Reap in Cambodia. We all loved Langkawi and will treasure the memory of our time spent there.
Well we have had a few beers now, we started on Tsingtao but then found giant Budweisers for Y8. (Around 50 pence) hehe! Gotta find some way of passing the 22 hour journey and a few Buds seems as a good as any