AsiaChinaKunming

Rooftop chillin' in Kunming

Kunming Travel Blog

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Soft sleeper class to Kunming

With tears in my eyes and pain ripping through my heart I bid Yangshuo farewell.

Okay, I leave Yangshuo. That's that. I'm heading back to Guilin to catch a train to Kunming, a sweet 18 hours away. First up is the one hour busride to Guilin, and that one turns out to be nervewrekcing. Buses leave (roughly) on time in China, but only start really going when they're  full. Like, seriously full. This when full principle can take ages. The bus drives along the streets on walking pace with the attendent screaming the bus' destination to everyone who wants to hear it. Fine if you're not in a hurry, not so cool if you have a train to catch.

Train food
The fat guy sleeping on my side and leaning in to me doesn't make it any more comfortable. I'm torn between allowing him, or smacking him on the head the next time he leans in.

Alas, noone seems to be bothered by the 'packer in the bus who thinks he's going to miss his train. When I show my train ticket to the busdriver he looks at me, laughs and waves me off. Is that a good or a bad sign? His attendent signals everything is going to be fine. I nod understandingly, then curse the bus. As we drive into Guilin centre and I start recognizing the streets, trying to get my bearings to find the trainstation. We're getting closer and closer, but the clock is ticking on as well. With a minute left the bus pulls up in front on the station and I jump out. After being nearly killed twice by a taxi and a moto, I make it to the other side of the street.

Kunming, Yunnan, China
Hobbling across the street with my gigantic backpack I make it to the station and the platform just in time. I'm the last one to get on the train, which immediately rolls away. Phew!

A long train journey later I arrive in Kunming and take a cab to the Hump Hostel. Let me tell you something, the Hump is one sweet hostel. Nice atmosphere, bar, internet, central location, but above all, the Rooftop. Oh, that Rooftop! Legendary, Marco Polo chilled here and Shakespeare wrote about it in his plays. It's rumoured to be one of the favorite places of Mao Zedong, and President of the United States George W. Bush only enhanced the Hump's Hostel Rooftop status when the first thing he asked Hu Jintao was 'when he would take him to the Rooftop' during his last visit to China. Naturally, this is the place to go for me.

45 cm wide beds, not joking!
Despite the legendary status of the Rooftop, I could stay there for only E2.30 per night. Easy peasy.

Despite the presence of the Rooftop, Kunming itself is not all that. Boring, to be honest. The Rooftop is to blame for this, as there's simply no reason to ever leave the hostel. After all the new impressions in China, I'm happy to get some rest and just read a book on the Rooftop. I also meet up with Anthony again, whom I met in Hong Kong. He arrives a day later than me in Kunming, and we agree to travel to Vietnam together.

The only way over land from Kunming to Vietnam is by bus, as the train service is not transporting passengers anymore. Arriving at the bus station, we're ripped off by the busdriver who wants us to pay extra for our big bags. Reluctantly, I pay up.

Into Vietnam
The bus itself is unlike I (or Anthony for that matter) have ever seen before. Three rows of bunkbeds, not wider than 45 centimeters each. It's incredible how they fitted that in there, or how they think we can fit in there, for that matter. Even the tiny Chinese have trouble fitting in. Destination: Hell.

As if the bus isn't bad enough already, the passengers are possibly even worse. Yelling, shouting at each other, calling their friends and putting music on the speakers of their phones.. in the middle of the night?! What's wrong with these people? This is beyond cultural differences, this is just rude. Letting your cellphone ring just so that everyone can hear your new ringtone, showing off the speakers on your phone, unbelievable. I have a rough night without any sleep. I'm wrecked as we arrive in Houkai, the Chinese border town with Viet Nam, and of course, I'm selected for a thorough baggage check by the Chinese officials. Emptying my bag, going through my passport (what country is that stamp from?), my books (what is this book about?), my insurance papers, everything.

Oh, the joys of travelling!

zkw says:
You had undertook a special check on the border. Another experience!
Posted on: May 14, 2008
Ape says:
JeAr: Thanks for the comments! And yes, everyone better feel safer now, after my troubles at the border! There was only one guy who spok english, so there three guys going through my bag, reporting to the english speaking chap, who translates to me.. Having to explain every single card in my wallet (including my PADI card, Ntl. Poker League card, Contact lenses service card.. sigh) and all the stamps in my passport.. You get the picture eh ;)

Calvin: For the longer trip to Kunming I wanted a softsleeper instead of a hardsleeper.. The difference isn't that big, but for 18 hours.. A bit of comfort is needed. I didn't know that about the mealboxes dropping in price! Better luck next time ;) An no, I didn't notice anything of the earthquake.. Must have been horrendoes. Did you feel it? Life can be over in a second, before you know it..
Posted on: May 13, 2008
zkw says:
How do you like soft sleeper comparing with the hard one? More comfortable and spacious!?
You know how to buy the the train meal at lowest price?
Normally, train staff will sell meal boxes on meal tray 3 times within 2 hours during dinner time. The first is the highest, and of course the last is lowest which is just 1/3 of the first.
Did you feel earthquake in Vietnam caused by the earthquake in Sichuan, China (People in Bangkok(3300m from quake center) felt it)? Terrible and miserable!
Posted on: May 13, 2008
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Soft sleeper class to Kunming
Soft sleeper class to Kunming
Train food
Train food
Kunming, Yunnan, China
Kunming, Yunnan, China
45 cm wide beds, not joking!
45 cm wide beds, not joking!
Into Vietnam
Into Vietnam
Kunming
Kunming
Massage gone bad!
Massage gone bad!
Sleeper bus to Vietnam
Sleeper bus to Vietnam
Anthony trying to fit in the bus
Anthony trying to fit in the bus
Bordercrossing
Bordercrossing
Kunming
photo by: eefab