The Bamboo Temple.

The four remaining Anglophone vans are now parked at the Bamboo Temple (N25.06864 E102.62457) about 12km north west of Kunming. The temple is rightly famous for its 500 surreal, life sized sculptures of arhats (noble ones). They have to be seen to be believed. Recommended.

The Maling Gorge.The highlights between Guilin and here have been:

  • Pat's birthday!
  • The scenery, at last we are back in relatively un-populated areas with a wide variety of spectacular scenery. We have climbed above 250 metres for the first time(?) since Beijing. We have been able to wild camp again with relative ease.
  • Maling Gorge, with dramatic waterfalls and white water rafting. Alas we only had time to stop for lunch and admire the scenery from the road bridge. Recommended.
  • The Stone Forest at Shi Lin. In spite of what it says in Lonely Planet (2000) and two of our three maps the Stone Forest is actually only 62km east of Kunming at N24.82622 E103.32356. The "forest" is in fact a massive collection of grey limestone pillars eroded into wonderful shapes. Recommended. We camped, with permission, in the official car park but were still visited by the sleep police. Clive told them to go away, and they did.

The lowlights have been:

  • The standard of driving of the trucks in the wet and fog.
  • The behavior of our guide (Gong).
  • The Fiat car that backed into K-Nine in a car park in Kunming

One surprising development has been an encouraging e-mail from China Swan hinting that K-Nine, Womble and Kon-Tiki may be allowed to use our escape route through Kazakstan (Mog is leaving with the French via Nepal.)

Stephen Stewart.

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