Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Yunnan Province, China, Trip Report: May 26-June 10, 2017

Yunnan Province, China, Trip Report: May 26-June 10, 2017

Jul 14th, 2017, 04:40 AM
  #21  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 985
Shanghainese,
Thank you!

I have two more installments to write: Our return to Lijiang from Lugu Lake, and then Shangri-la.

Where did you go in Yunnan Province?
KarenWoo is offline  
Jul 14th, 2017, 12:30 PM
  #22  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 985
TWO MORE NIGHTS IN BEAUTIFUL LIJIANG!

We had to return to Lijiang in order to continue our northward journey to Shangri-la, so we returned to Lijiang on the same mountainous road we traveled to get to Lugu Lake. Because we felt we didn’t need 3 nights in Lugu Lake, we cancelled our 3rd night here and added it to Lijiang, so we now had 2 nights and one full day in Lijiang. This was the best decision we made! We stayed at the same hotel, the Wangfu Hotel.

This gave us a free day to explore wherever we wanted, so we chose to visit the beautiful Mu Mansion in Lijiang’s ancient town. The mansion was the home of the Mu clan, the rulers of the Naxi people for about 470 years in ancient China. Unfortunately, the mansion was burned during an uprising in 1870, and what was left standing was destroyed during the 1995 earthquake. The mansion was renovated after the earthquake. There are ornamental halls and beautiful courtyards and flower gardens that were rebuilt to resemble a mini Forbidden City. We took our time walking through here and taking photographs. Surprisingly, there were very few tourists here, so it was very peaceful and lovely. The mansion is built into a hillside, so it’s all uphill walking with places to rest along the way and view the Ancient Town with its gray-tiled roofs. Very scenic and photogenic! The hill is called Lion Hill, and when you reach the top, there is a very narrow lane leading down from Lion Hill to Sifang, the Old Market Square. The cobblestones can be slippery, so be careful walking through this twisty maze of lanes. There are stores and tiny cafes lining the lane.

When we arrived at the square, we took our time walking through the square and adjoining narrow streets. It was very lively, filled with many tourists. What I didn’t like is the numerous clubs now lining the square with its live rock bands competing with each other! When my husband and oldest daughter were here in 2004, there were ethnic dancers performing in the square. Sadly, they have now been replaced by loud rock musicians.

It was hot, so we stopped for fresh mango drinks, which I thought would be safe to drink because the mango chunks are peeled. However, several hours later I started having intestinal problems again. When I told my daughter this, she told me that she and a friend had intestinal problems after eating mangoes in Thailand! I think the problem could be that contamination was transferred on to the fruit after cutting and peeling the mangos. Anyways, as much as I love mango, maybe we should avoid them in Asia?

To be Continued . . . a late start to Shangri-la
KarenWoo is offline  
Jul 15th, 2017, 08:23 AM
  #23  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 985
SHANGRI-LA (FORMERLY KNOWN AS ZHONGDIAN)

As many of you may already know, Zhongdian won the competition and was re-named Shangri-la, after James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon!! What a creative marketing tool to get people to come to a small town that was too remote and too high to attract many tourists. Not too long ago, Shangri-la was described as a “one-yak town” where “pigs nibbled on garbage strewn street corners”.

We were supposed to leave for Shangri-la at 9:00AM in the morning, but because of intestinal problems again, I wasn’t physically able to leave until noon, when we had to check out of our hotel. Unfortunately, this meant we didn’t have time to go to the First Bend on the Yangtze River. So our first stop was at Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world. Because of the heat and because I have some mobility issues, we did not hike down to the bottom to be up close and personal with the gorge. There are a series of stairs, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk down and then back up again. So we spent around 10 to 15 minutes viewing the gorge from the top and taking photos. It was hot so we used our rain umbrellas for protection against the sun, and I purchased bottled water as soon as we got there. My husband had walked down to the bottom when he was here in 2004, so he wasn’t too disappointed.

After having a late lunch nearby, we continued our drive to Shangri-la. Along the way, we saw beautiful scenery, grazing yaks, Tibetan style houses, and the Himalayan foothills. We reached our destination in the early evening and checked into our hotel, Zhaxidele Hotel. This hotel is a large modern hotel. It’s not quaint or visually appealing, but it has all the necessary amenities, and our room was a good size and clean. Breakfast was huge! There was a very long buffet table with many dishes; however, the food didn’t appeal to me for breakfast. Again, there were many, many stir fried vegetables dishes, and also some meat and vegetable combinations. Both mornings I had some hard-boiled eggs and rice congee. We tried yak butter tea, which was salty, and in my opinion, is an acquired taste.

SIGHTSEEING:

PUDACUO NATIONAL PARK/POTATSO NATIONAL PARK

This is the first national park in China which for some unexplained reason has two names! It was one of the highlights of our trip. We didn’t research the park, so we really didn’t know what to expect. This park is beautiful and a “must see”. The park is comprised of several lakes (Shudu Lake and Bita Lake), gorgeous mountains covered in blooming azalea bushes, and alpine pastures with grazing yaks. Visitors must take the sightseeing bus which travels throughout the park and makes stops along the way for photo and hiking opportunities. Because these trails take about 1 ½ hours to 2 hours, we didn’t have the time to hike on the longer trails. We did, however, hike on a short trail that took about 15 minutes each way. This trail took us through one of the meadows where we saw the yaks close up and ended at a very pretty lake. We really enjoyed the park and wish we could have spent more time here.

GANDEN SUMTSELING MONASTERY/SONGZANLIN MONASTERY

The other highlight of Shangri-la is the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, a 300-year old Tibetan monastery, the largest in Yunnan Province. As we drove up to the monastery from downtown Shangri-la, we were impressed with the view of the pale yellow monastery sitting on the hill with its golden spires, which was even more impressive with the bright sun shining on it. We stopped on the side of the road for photo opportunities.

This is a huge complex of temples and buildings. We were allowed to visit 3 temples. We had to walk clockwise around the monastery and the temples, which is the custom of Gelupga-sect monasteries. Monks live and work here, and we saw many of them during our visit.

THE OLD TOWN

Dukezong (the old town) is actually not a very old town. It was built about 20 years ago. Sadly, a large portion was destroyed in a fire in 2013. There is still some re-building and construction going on. We didn’t spend a lot of time here because honestly it just wasn’t very appealing to us. Dukezong is not beautiful the way Dali and Lijiang are beautiful. There aren’t any trees, flowers, etc. There is also a main square with souvenir stalls, which is where I rested while my husband walked to the top of Turtle Hill to see the huge golden prayer wheel, supposedly the largest in the world.

According to our tour guide, the new town is still growing. Some streets we drove down did not exist just a few years ago.

I highly recommend traveling to Shangri-la for the national park, beautiful mountain scenery and hiking trails, and for the Tibetan monastery.

Next chapter – our very long journey home!
KarenWoo is offline  
Jul 15th, 2017, 08:59 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,746
Walking clockwise is not unique to the Gelupga sect. In fact I was quite surprised when I discovered that the custom was not followed in most Buddhist temples in China. It certainly improves traffic flow, although it is actually based on the idea that the right side is "better" than the left.

Sorry that you had so much intestinal trouble.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 16th, 2017, 06:57 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,777
Thanks for your informative report.

I've heard such mixed reports about this part of China, so I appreciate another perspective.
Kathie is online now  
Jul 16th, 2017, 03:24 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,761
Thanks for your informative report. Sorry you has some food issues...never fun to get sick on a trip.

Kathie - what negatives did you hear about this part of China. We are thinking of going to this region next year.
dgunbug is offline  
Jul 16th, 2017, 04:53 PM
  #27  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 985
Kathie and dgunbug,
I definitely recommend traveling to Yunnan Province. With the exception of the old town in Kunming and the bird and flower market in Kunming, we loved everything we saw and did. The countryside and mountain scenery are beautiful and majestic, and Dali and Lijiang especially are very pretty and enjoyable. And there is no pollution!

Where else have you been in China? Yunnan Province is very different from the east coast of China, (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xian, etc.) and it's also very different from Xinjiang Province. You might see more squat toilets in Yunnan than you might see in Beijing, etc. so just be prepared for that. And make sure you bring toilet paper into public bathrooms with you. My husband never got sick and he ate street food, which I avoided. So you just never know who will be afflicted. And the high altitude didn't bother him at all, either. The high altitude problems I had were manageable, and should not deter you from traveling to Yunnan.

My last installment will be about our long journey home, with flight delays and a missed connection!
KarenWoo is offline  
Jul 17th, 2017, 10:54 AM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,407
We traveled in Yunnan Province last year so I am really enjoying your report. We also took the train from Kunming to Dali but in the daytime. We were also booked in a sleeper car and quickly escaped to the bar lounge car! I understand how uncomfortable it must have been with four people and luggage squeezed in there. Our favorite place was near Dali, Xizhou, where we stayed in a traditional house turned into a hotel,Sky Valley Heritage Hotel. The food was excellent in Yunnan, such fresh vegetables and well prepared dishes. Whenever I see garlic, I think of Xizhou where the fields were full of workers sitting harvesting it with trowels and putting it into large straw baskets.
None of us noticed the altitude there or in Lijiang but have been bothered in other places.
 
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Jul 17th, 2017, 02:13 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,761
Karen - we spent a month doing the typical tourist circuit - Beijing, ping yao, datong, xi'an, nanjing, shanghai, Suzhou, and hangzou. We missed Hong Kong which my husband has already been to and Guilin which I wanted to get to last time. The yunnan province trip would include those as well. Of course china is a huge country and it can't all be seen. We'd love to go to Harbin for the ice festival, but being from Florida, we are not brave enough to tackle the cold and ice!
dgunbug is offline  
Jul 18th, 2017, 11:28 AM
  #30  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 985
OUR LONG JOURNEY HOME!

On the morning after our second night in Shangri-la, we flew from Shangri-la back to Kunming and checked into the New Era Hotel, the hotel we stayed in our first 2 nights. We had time for a delicious meal at our favorite restaurant in Kunming. I wish I had written down the name of this restaurant because it’s one of our favorites from the whole trip. We had time to browse through shops, get ice cream, and then go to bed early for our early morning pick up the next day.

Our tour guide and driver picked us up at 5:00AM, and we were at the Kunming Airport by 5:40AM. What a busy airport so early in the morning. I couldn’t believe it! We had problems with the beginning of each of our 3 flights going home. We waited at a China Eastern counter for 15 minutes, and then discovered we were at the wrong counter. This counter was for flights going to Lijiang, Shangri-la, etc. Flights going to Shanghai and Beijing were at another counter. So we walked over to this counter and picked the shortest line. Well, that was a big mistake! There was one customer at the counter, and a couple in front of us. As it turns out, the customer at the counter was a travel agent who was checking in about 30 passengers! By the time we realized this, the other lines were very long so we decided to stay where we were. 45 minutes later, it was finally our turn. However, the reservation agent could not find my reservation! So she sent our tour guide and my husband to 2 other counters while I waited with our luggage. Someone finally found my reservation in a different computer system. That person wrote down a number, and our tour guide gave it to the agent where I was waiting. There was still some confusion, but after a few minutes, they finally checked us in!!!! We arrived at our gate at 7;20AM for a 7:40AM departure.

We met up with our daughter and son-in-law when we arrived in Shanghai and shared interesting and funny travel stories. We boarded our flight from Shanghai to Montreal about an hour late, and then we sat in the airplane on the runway for 3 hours!!!! Our plane could not take off due to dense fog in Shanghai. Needless to say, when we arrived in Montreal, we missed our connecting flight to Boston. Air Canada put us up (along with other passengers) at the Holiday Inn at the Montreal airport, and provided us with food vouchers for breakfast and lunch for the next day. But there was another snag. The Holiday Inn shuttle bus driver refused to drive us to the hotel because the hotel told him they only had 2 rooms available and ordered him not to bring us there. Yet we had vouchers from Air Canada. My husband quickly called the Holiday Inn and reserved the 2 remaining rooms for us. Finally, we and the other passengers convinced the bus driver to bring us to the Holiday Inn. We got checked into our rooms, and the last we knew, the manager was figuring out what to do with the other people.

It was midnight, and we needed a drink! So we convinced the very kind bartender to stay open a little longer and serve us drinks. I think we stayed up until 2AM. He closed the bar while we were still drinking in the lounge.

So, the next afternoon we boarded our flight to Boston, and had to sit on the runway for 2 hours this time because there was heavy air traffic over Logan Airport!!! I couldn’t believe it. We fly quite a bit, and I know nothing like this ever happened to us before. We finally made it home in the evening, 24 hours later than we were supposed to.

Despite the flight delays and some illnesses, the trip to Yunnan Province was worth it.

If anyone has any questions, please let me know and I will try to answer them.

Thanks for reading along.
KarenWoo is offline  
Jul 18th, 2017, 12:47 PM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,761
Thanks for taking the time to provide a report. Sorry you had such a long return flight home and such aggravation, but after all is said and done, these inconveniences ar all part of the joys of travel.

Can I assume you been to other area of China? How did you like this trip compare to the regular China circuit? Was it more foreign or equally built up like so many of China's growing cities? If you've been to the Guilin area, how were the rice fields in that area compared t the scenery in the yunnan province?
dgunbug is offline  
Jul 18th, 2017, 01:13 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,746
Thanks for the report. Sorry about the trip home and kudos to your husband for quick action!
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 18th, 2017, 01:41 PM
  #33  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 985
Dgunbug,
I agree with you that these inconveniences are all part of the joys and excitement of traveling!

This was my 3rd trip to China. In 2002 we went with a tour group on a 3-week trip to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xian, Guilin, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing. Then in 2006 we visited our oldest daughter who was working in shanghai at the time. Aftern spending time with her in Shanghai, the 3 of us traveled to Xinjiang Province for a week, where we visited Kashgar, Karakoram Highway, Urumqi, Turpan, and we stayed in a yurt at Heaven Lake.

Yunnan Province is very different from the east coast cities. It is not as crowded and the cities are much smaller. Kunming is the largest city we visited. There isn't any pollution (maybe just a little bit in Kunming). And the scenery is very different. We traveled north towards the Tibetan border so the scenery is more mountainousn and dramatic. I believe the rice fields are south of Kunming, and we didn't go south. Yunnan is definitely more foreign. And the people look different because they are not Han Chinese. In Yunnan you will see very few caucasians. Most of the tourists are Chinese. We saw a small group of British travelers in Dali; a couple from Switzerland at our hotel in Lijiang. In fact, the Western dining room at our hotel in Lijiang had only about 6 Westerners when we dined there, and one morning it was closed because they didn't have enough westerners staying there that day to remain open, so we ate in the Chinese dining room.

I loved this trip as much as my other trips to China, although as I said it is very different than the other places we have visited. I certainly didn't miss the pollution! I like to see the well-known typical sights wherever I travel (such as. Beijing, Great Wall in China, Eiffel Tower in Paris, etc.) as well as the lesser known sites and places.

I hope this helps.
KarenWoo is offline  
Jul 18th, 2017, 03:17 PM
  #34  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 985
HappyTrvlr,
Xizhou was on our itinerary, but we had to cancel because of a late start that morning. I think that was when I first had stomach problems. After reading your post, I regret not being able to go there.It sounds peaceful and a slice of real life.
KarenWoo is offline  
Apr 6th, 2019, 03:53 AM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,688
Karenwoo,
Iím considering a trip to China for next year and I found your wonderful trip to the Yunnan Province. What an amazing report and detail! Iím fascinated with this region now! Thank you for this!

The trip is still percolating in my brain but this has really given me lots to think about.
progol is offline  
Apr 8th, 2019, 08:00 AM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 283
As an update on this region. You now have high-speed trains from Kunming to Dali and Lijiang. A high-speed connection is also under construction to Shangri-la
CanadaChinaTraveller is offline  
Apr 8th, 2019, 08:12 AM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,688
Very exciting! Thank you! Thanks to this report and a few others, I've become intrigued by Southwest China and, in particular, the Yunnan Province, and am now planning to make a trip here next year. The info about the trains is very helpful!
progol is offline  
May 15th, 2019, 11:07 AM
  #38  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 985
Hi Progol,
I apologize for responding so late. I was in France for 2 weeks and then I had hip replacement surgery a week ago. I received your private message, and I will hopefully respond in more detail today.

It is nice to know about the high speed train from Kunming to Dali! While we all laugh about our experience on the K Train, it is not something i would recommend or would want to do again.
KarenWoo is offline  
May 15th, 2019, 01:38 PM
  #39  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 985
Progol, I sent you a private message.
KarenWoo is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:31 PM.