Posted by: Brian | March 16, 2009

ShiLin & Jiuxiang



Recently I had an unexpected but wholly appreciated experience to visit some areas around Kunming, specifically ShiLin and JiuXiang (in order: the Stone Forest, and Remember the Dust… or something like that. My roommate and I aren’t entirely sure what JiuXiang means in English). I woke up at 7am, went outside my dorm and found some breakfast. I bought what I thought was some sort of trail mix, but turned out to be very salty nuts wrapped in something brown – perhaps a grass or herb of some sort? Regardless, I got bailed out on the breakfast front by the family that had invited me to go with them. They brought big fluffy dumplings (baozi) with some sort of meat filling; very tasty.

ShiLin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and something I’d heard plenty about from teachers, advisors, and Chinese students at OU, so I was looking forward to it. When you get there, it’s jam-packed with Chinese tourists, as well as boatloads of a local minority group dressed up in traditional garb and trying to sell you a tour guide, or food, or pictures, or cowboy hats that say Marlboro on them… you get the idea. For some reason, the Chinese have an unfortunate tendency to blanket fascinating historical sites with vendors of anything and everything they think tourists might buy. It gets a bit annoying after telling somebody “bu yao” (essentially: I don’t want it) for the tenth time.

Fortunately, the tourists and accompanying vendors clear out rapidly as you progress into the Stone Forest. It’s almost like a maze, with nooks and crannies that even thin people can barely fit through. I enjoyed myself more as I moved through towards the back, where there are barely any people. The back has better views, anyway, and made for a satisfying hike.

JiuXiang was completely different. It’s a series of enormous caves to the east of Kunming, filled with all manner of stalactites and stalagmites. There’s a river running through it, nice waterfalls, and even more people asking if you want to take pictures than at ShiLin. Bu yao, bu yao, bu yao. Also, the Chinese seem to like their caves colorful, because most areas were blanketed in multi-colored spotlights. JiuXiang ended with a cable-car ride back to the front. Due to a complete lack of safety or restraints, it was half fun, half terrifying.

After a crazy-long ride back to Kunming over terrible roads, including one stop because of an overheated engine, we finished the day with a hot-pot variant that translates roughly as “crossing-bridge rice noodles.” It had tons of ingredients, and I have no idea what most of them were. The highlight of the dish was finding out that I like eating bees. Yes, the insect. It was actually pretty tasty. Regrettably, I don’t have any pictures of my meal…



  1. Wow. Sounds great. I’ll have to go to some of the places around Kyoto and give a report on them so I won’t be outdone. Haha. How’s class?

  2. It’s not too bad. My schedule isn’t perfect (830-1200 most days), but it works pretty well for doing a bit of exploring in and around Kunming.

    How much longer do you have until you leave?

  3. I’m leaving Tuesday, I’ll be there Wednesday. From San Antonio, no less. Does your chat stuff work? If it does, you should totally try to get on aim, skype, etc and we can talk since its only an hour time difference. You should totally get a cheap router and try connecting through that thing. I’m sure your internet troubles are solvable somehow…

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