Friday, 30 May 2008

Dragon's Cave, Huangguoshu falls

Early doors for the tour and I'm picked up from the hotel lobby at 06.30 by my no-english tour guide. I decide to call him Kevin - he's a bit chubby and looks like a Kevin, so Kevin it is (no offence to any Kevins reading this BTW).

First stop is a random Buddhist temple. I'm sure it was very interesting for the natives, but it was all just chinese to me... Second stop was a sales pitch job at the 'middle of nowhere' health food shop. Everything contained peanuts, so that ruled things out for me and I decided against the 'dried goose gizzard' or 'finest cattle intestine'.

We start towards the Dragon's Cave, but get turned back by an oncoming coach - apparently it's flooded and closed due to the recent heavy rains - oh dear. Next stop is a random falls, very wide and the output of this thing is amazing - some of the viewing area is closed off because of the high water levels and I get spoken at by this guy from Singapore, but it's nice to speak some english as opposed to be mute all day. It's about this time, that I become the attraction and I'm grabbed by the locals to pose for pictures with them (I thought the falls were supposed to be the attraction?) but it's all done in good fun.

I get chatting to 'Tin Tin' and her sister and they're also befriended by a woman from Wenchuan (earthquake area) who is almost embarrasingly grateful when I show her my 'I donated to the earthquake' card that I got given at the donation stand. It's really humbling and sad to hear her stories.

Next it's on to Asia's biggest waterfall - Huangguoshu falls. You pass through a lovely bonsai garden and descend through a forest where it slowly begins to rain from the trees... You can hear the falls in the distance and then you emerge on to the viewing platform - amazing. They're in full effect, 80m high, 110 wide and absolutely storming from the recent rains. I can't stress how massive they are. The amount of water this thing is kicking out is amazing, and the spray created is like being in a shower - heavy drizzle approaches from everywhere and it's not long before you're soaked. There's a suspension bridge over the river (Dad, you would NOT have liked that at all) and sadly the closest viewing platform is closed of because of the flooding - which is understandable when I see the torrent of water coming down the stairs leading up to it.

The bus crew kick up a bit of a stink as we can't visit the village of Anshun as planned because of the flooding which is visible from the freeway past it. Kevin gets busy on the mobile trying to sort us out refunds (even with no chinese, I get the gist of all this) and we head back to the Dragon's cave. It's deserted, and we head in to the park. There's a bridge over the worryingly fast flowing river and at this falls, whilst it's much smaller, the output is no less impressive as we can get much closer to it - across the bridge and the spray from this one is just ridiculous - you're soaked in two seconds. The cave is flooded so we can't tour it by boat (which I'm kinda grateful for) and after the poor views at the backbone rice terraces and the restrictions today, I haven't had the most successful couple of days sightseeing!

I get some money back for the part of the tour which was unavailable (which was a bonus I guess) and we roll back into town at 20.00. TinTin helps me sort out a bus ticket to Kunming and hit the street stalls for some grub - the potato chips dusted in chilli are undercooked - the rice cake patties are flavourless too so it all goes to a homeless dude who's grateful. KFC it is, where I'm served by the most camp, slow and meticulous fast food worker I've ever seen. He should've been in a haute cuisine restaurant, not a fast food place.

Not much doing the next day - I spend the morning buying a bus ticket (trust me, it takes all morning finding things out and settling the deal) and the afternoon sightseeing in the local park - more hills for me to climb... but the views over Guiyang are impressive.

I've changed rooms to the 17th floor (I can't stand the smell any longer!) for my last night here and eat on the street stalls for dinner. It's cooked in about 30seconds in a wok over a flame that looks like it's straight out the back of Harrier jumpjet (seriously, NASA would be proud of this thing) and I've now definitely eaten tripe and intestine...

So, I'm now in Kunming and I like it already - been on the piss last night, beers for Y3 (that's 22pence - ha!) at the street BBQ where we had chilli crickets. Been on here for ages, so Kunming's gonna be another update.

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