Stone Forest

Nicholas Quirke was having mixed feelings about Kunming on 31 August 3020 as he woke to another gloomy day. The problems he had endured the night before in getting a train ticket to Shilin had left him feeling nervous about the journey he was about to set off on. Once he boarded the train at Kunmingnan station, a long subway ride, and reached Shilinxi station he still needed to get to the Stone Forest Scenic Area which was a further 50 minute drive away. He bought a ticket back first to ensure he would return to the hotel and then reviewed getting to the forest. Peng had suggested a Didi but on exiting the station he saw that there was a bus and he looked into taking that. As it was only 10 yuan it seemed the cheapest way of getting to the park, in fact travel costs in China mostly were ludicrously cheap as his rail ticket had only cost him 19 yuan When he had been deposited at the Scenic Area, he then searchers for the ticket office and was pointed in a direction which he followed till he came to a main road and knew something was amiss. he asked a stranger where the ticket officer was and the man took him to what seemed to be a cafe. He asked the girls he was presented with if it was the ticket office and they said yes. He paid his 75 yuan and was told to sit down and wait, which he did. It didn’t feel right so he got up to ask what he was waiting for when a woman came up to him with 75 yuan indicating they had done it wrong. He was directed across the road through a parking lot and eventually got to a proper ticket office. He paid 90 yuan, of which 25 was for transport in the park. He got in a buggy and he and others were left at a huge building which he guessed was the entrance to the park. He made his way there and they let him through but all he could see were displays of rocks. He asked if it was the entrance but it turned out to be a museum. Well, he thought, there’s is no harm in having a quick look. It was initially interesting as it explained how the karst forest he was about to explore had been formed but after about 15 minutes of looking at fossils and more information which he had already seeen at Beijing’s natural history museum he had had enough and wanted to be in the open air instead of looking at the immense rocks and fossils the museum had collated. He followed the exit signs and was directed by staff but it still took him another 10 minutes to get out of the immense never ending museum and at one point in some vast empty corridor he thought maybe he had died and was going to be trapped there for eternity. Eventually he found air and a short walk got him finally to the entrance. He started by exploring the Minor Forest area which neatly led him to the lotus pond and the Major Forest area. There was no doubt in his mind that he was the only Laowai patrolling the park and the evidence was the number of people who wanted to take a photo with him, from young teenage girls and boys, to couples and even a group of 30 year old men. With all the natural wonders, the fascinating scenery and rocks, with names like; ‘Immortal Tortoise’, ‘Elephant on a Platform‘, ‘South Heavenly Gate’, ‘Girl with Basket’, ‘Mountain of knives’ and ‘Sword Peak pond’ He felt he was as much a piece of the scenery as the gigantic carbonate rocks. He was aware that it would take some time to get back to Kunming and by 3pm he began the journey by bus to Shilinxi and then onto the main station which was a short 20m minute walk to the hotel. During this time Peng had found a noodle restaurant which was worth getting to in the vicinity of his lodgings. The meal was delicious and he was compelled to post images of his dinner online, not a habit he was usually into. Sated by the dinner, satisfied that he had accomplished another difficult journey on his own, and thrilled to have seen the geological wonder, he took to his bed.

3 Comments

  1. Impressive stone forest. ‘ at one point in some vast empty corridor he thought maybe he had died and was going to be trapped there for eternity. ’…..don’t know why, but that made me laugh….a lot 😂 x

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