China 1982

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

China 1982

Before breakfast this morning I went for a walk along Peking Road, the street in which the hotel is located.  Despite the movement of huge numbers of people, it was very orderly, efficient and above all, quiet, because only bicycles and buses are used.  Apparently the residents of Kunming think the city is hilly, but compared with Sydney it is flat, making bicycles a great way to get around.  It saves petrol and space, and is good for fitness.  Both the streets and footpaths are very wide, so it feels very peaceful and safe walking along, even at night time.

The schedule from Kunming has been fairly tight today.  After a 6:30am breakfast, we went on an all-day trip to the Stone Forest, some 120 kilometres south-east of Kunming.  The scenery we saw was, we were told, unique for our trip, which means we should not expect to see similar scenery again in China.

The areas we passed through to reach the Stone Forest were mainly areas of rice and wheat cultivation, with very traditional mud-brick villages at frequent intervals.  Most of the fields had public toilets right beside the road so passers-by could help the farmers (I’m sure you know what I mean).

Agriculture in this area is incredibly labour intensive; we saw one tractor all day and it wasn’t on a farm.  Human labour was doing all the hoeing, and animal power was performing most of the carrying tasks.  The area id dominated by the Yi nationality, of whom one group is the Sani.  They really do wear those brightly coloured and intricately woven clothes.  The people we have seen so far (I’m guessing about a quarter of a million) really do smile a lot just like the official propaganda photos show – they really do seem remarkably happy, good natured, outgoing and easy-going people (outwardly at least).

Soil erosion is a serious problem in many of the areas we passed through, though.  This seems to be a consequence of poor shifting cultivation practices over the centuries.  Over the past 20 years or so, a massive reafforestation program has been implemented, with tens of thousands of trees being planted to stabilise the slopes.  This was needed to compensate the large-scale deforestation that occurred with the breakdown of order during the Great Leap Forward, and to a lesser extent, during the Cultural Revolution.  Less impressive from the perspective of a photographer’ wishing to take photos from the bus window (i.e. me) are the lines of trees which seem to border every road at about 3 metre intervals – the streets look great, but the possibilities for good photographs are reduced significantly.

The Stone Forest was really impressive.  It is a karst limestone area, which is something like Jenolan Caves above the ground.  Walking through it was a great experience, although because of its immensity, quite difficult to photograph well (not that this stopped me).  We returned to the hotel at 5:30pm.

Dinner tonight was a ridiculously massive farewell banquet of Yunnan provincial food; too much to fully enjoy really.  The menu was (1) leopard spots ham, (2) eight assorted entrées, including coated walnut somethings, chicken pieces, etc, (3) deer tendons fried with onion, (4) spring rolls, (5) chicken legs and wings fried in soy sauce, (6) quail eggs stewed in brown sauce, (7) stewed bear meat (I kid you not), (8) steamed fish with three delicacies, (9) steamed chicken with tian ma tonic, (10) rice noodles passing over bridges (the main course), (11) white mushrooms and bamboo shoots, (12) dessert, (13) fruit, and (14) green tea.A choice of beer, orange soft drink and mao tai accompanied the meal.  We have asked for only a light lunch tomorrow.

Day 7

Stone Forest, China


8 April 1982