part deux of the journey – a rather typical sequence of stops in the yunnan province. if you’re planning a trip there, it’s convenient to fly into kunming, drive to dali and then lijiang, and then drive to shangri-la – before flying back to finish the trip off at kunming.
the drive out of kunming almost definitely takes you to the stone forest, 石林. think a large national park full of stone forests (literally) rising from the ground. it’s full of lakes and greens, and it’s a pretty gorgeous place.
those reflections off the water are just something else, aren’t they?
but perhaps the most impressive thing about this place is the fact that it’s supposed to have been a vast expanse of sea that retreated and left behind these gargantuan structures.
how small we are in the grand scheme of things.
just a note of caution that there isn’t that much to eat in the park itself – there are a couple of small stores where they peddle fruit and chocolate bars and biscuits – so pack your own if necessary.
upon your entrance (or exit, depending on the time) from the park, you’ll see a tent by the side of the ticket hall with a large pot and people huddling around communal tables. we tried a bowl of the noodles – silky soft vermicelli in a slightly-spicy red broth with tiny bits of minced meat, pickles and springs onions on the top – and it isn’t too bad. rustic is probably a good word here.
our driver took us to a restaurant midway between the stone forest and the western mountains, or 西山森林公园, where we had a chance to try a little more local food.
in general, it’s a cuisine marked by loads of textures and spice, and known for prolific use of wild vegetables and mushrooms (every shade between green and brown). the food here was pretty decent, and exotic enough that I don’t think I’m equipped to review it properly.
suffice to say that it’s not the sort of typical chinese cooking I’m used to – and I’ve found that: 1) wild vegetables are usually a good pick; 2) avoid spice mixes and chilli pastes if possible (or have them on the side); and 3) the simpler the cooking, the easier it was for us to finish.
we finished the day at the western mountains, viewing the picturesque Dragon Gate (龙门) and its beautiful views over the city.
just in case:
- the stone forest: 石林
- the western mountains and the gorgeous dragon gate: 西山森林公园 and 龙门
more in this series of series-es:
- kunming city, china
- kunming outskirts, china (you’re here!)
- kunming to dali, china
- lijiang sights, china
- lijiang eats, china
- lijiang to shangri-la, china
- shangri-la, china
- kunming eats, china
p.s. I’ll be adding details to the trip posts as I remember them – so check back if you’re planning your own!