Ruili, Dali, Lijiang and the tiger leaping gorge

Ruili is not Yunnan’s Sin City that it was two years ago, but still interesting. Lots of friendly Burmese people and good food. I especially liked the purple pancakes with brown sugar and peanut powder. I have had them before somewhere, but they were brown then. Or maybe it was too dark to see that time… i think it was in Mae Salong in Thailand, back in 2001.

There’s a big market for semi precious stones in town, with lots of buying and selling. I didn’t buy. The Burmese in town are very welcoming and some speak ok English. But not after i asked how long they have stayed in China. Jiegao, a town just next to the border is a few kilometers away. Even more Burmese and less Chinese there. The border is not too heavily guarded it seems (see photos).

Taking the bus back northeast to Xiaguan (“Dali city”), the bus was checked by police as expected. This time my bag was checked too, and they even screwed a lamp off above my bunk and checked the space behind it. I suppose i look suspicious.

Old Dali is a short bus ride from Xiaguan. The town seemed nice as i arrived in early morning. But as i walked towards a hostel i ran into too many Chinese tourists, a sea f them. Groups following tour guides in Bai head dresses directing their flocks with megaphones. Plenty of backpacker cafes with pizza, pasta and banana pancakes. Smiling old Bai grandmas approaching me all the time, whispering “do you want to smoke hashis?”

Maybe it was a nice place ten years ago. But i still ended up staying two nights, sitting in cafes and watching people go by, and walking around. Towards the mountains northwest of the old town it’s quiet, but there still are nice old buildings. I ran into a weird construction material “mine”. People are digging for big and small boulders of rock (by hand tools only), and then splitting the rocks into fist sized bits (by hand tools only) and these are then loaded to trucks (by hand, again).

From Dali continued to Lijiang, a Naxi town. The old town is very nice, but there were even more Chinese tourists. From Lijiang went to Qiaotou, the start of a trek in the tiger leaping gorge. First day of trekking was really nice. I had more than 10 kilos on my back but it was ok. Steep mountains, snow capped mountains, etc. Very, very nice. The 40km hike is usually done in 2 days, but the morning after the first day i woke up with a fever, and decided to come down the mountain and take a taxi back to Qiaotou. There must be something wrong with the air in China as i’m ill all the time.

Qiotou is already quite Tibetan. Long haired Tibetan men in heavy boots and cowboy hats, and women in strange costumes, and signs in Tibetan script. However, i ditched my plans to continue north to the even more Tibetan parts of Yunnan and western Sichuan. Sleeping in unheated buildings in less than 10 degrees is just not fun with a fever. And it would have been a lot colder further north and higher in the mountains.

Now in Kunming for the 3rd and last time. Tried to get a Thai visa, but they needed to see a ticket TO and from Thailand and they only would have given single entry visas anyway. The from part i knew about but the “to” part was a bit ridiculous. Different rules in different Thai consulates.

So no Thai visa. Instead applied for a visa for Myanmar. I heard it’s cheaper to apply here than in Thailand. Will go in January if things are “ok” there. Some people, including Suu Kyi, think one shouldn’t go, others say that one should (some discussion). I suppose i’m with the latter then.

Now the plan is to go to northern Laos for two weeks or so, then spend December in Thailand with a 30 day stamp, fly to Myanmar for a month and then back to Thailand. A month or so in Thailand again (maybe two if the Yangon embassy gives me a visa). Then Cambodia, Laos and maybe Vietnam, or something else.

Bought a ticket home: 5.6.2007 from Hong Kong to London. Its 205€ with Oasis so even with the connecting somewhere-in-se-asia – HongKong and London – Helsinki flights it’s fairly cheap. Air Asia has cheap tickets to Hong Kong from Bangkok and elsewhere.

But, plans might change as usual:-)

photos from Friday, November 9th 2007
mountains at tiger leaping gorge 3 corn house and mountains mountains at tiger leaping gorge mountains at tiger leaping gorge 2 sleepy little doggie tea horse guest house hikers behind a tree cloudy mountains at tiger leaping gorge The upper trail at tiger leaping gorge
photos from Thursday, November 8th 2007
Old naxi women dancing Mao Vegetable mongers in Lijiang
photos from Wednesday, November 7th 2007
Red lanterns ATM Fruit monger in Lijiang water canal in lijiang doorway Too many tourists in Lijiang.. and this is not high season Chinese tourist on a horse
photos from Tuesday, November 6th 2007
white workshop pagodas near Dali Dali a rock mine (?) near Dali
photos from Monday, November 5th 2007
rays Dali cafés noodle shop Meat Schoolkids in Dali Schookids in Dali Card game
photos from Sunday, November 4th 2007
Currency exchange unfinished building Burma on the left, China on the right A purple rice pancake with brown sugar and peanut powder Border building From china to burma
photos from Saturday, November 3rd 2007
Mr. butterfly on the pavement Abandoned (?) restaurants in Ruili Jade, etc for sale A park next to the Jade market A Market in Ruili A market in Ruili 2

Comments 3

  1. Willy Berger wrote:

    Nice story. I was in Yunnan provbince last year in Jinhong, Lijang, Dali and Kunming from where I went to Hekou and Vietnam. I plan to go back this year via the Mekong to Jinghong then travel to Ruilli and on to the headwaters of the Salween river. Any tips, or hostels you can recommend ?

    Posted 25 Jul 2008 at 14:35
  2. immu wrote:

    See the earlier post about the road from Jinghong to Ruili along the border – i didn’t make it through. In Ruili I stayed at the Mandalay Garden, in a pretty moldy bamboo hut. I was the only gueast. It’s ok but you can probably get a room with toilet for the same price in one of the Chinese hotels near the center of town.

    Posted 26 Jul 2008 at 12:17
  3. Cheap Flower Deliver wrote:

    Very nice and interesting story. It’s great to travel and share it. It is informative and travelers can get ideas with it,

    Posted 09 Sep 2010 at 17:13

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