Yet another turbulent flight and I was in Kunming, the 'Spring City' in Central Yunnan which honestly was colder than a desert at night and more polluted than many Indian cities put together....
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We were told that the Chinese name of Zhong Dian was changed to Shangri-la to increase tourism. The Tibetan name is Gyeltang. It was cold and we were freezing there so we added gloves and coats to our backpacks and went off to the 300 year old monastery. Shane, our friend who had joined us on this trip had seen Potala Palace in Lhasa 2 years ago and told us this was similar. We loved it! Due to many regulations, we decided not to go to Lhasa, Tibet on this trip.
The Jiuxiang Scenic region is located 90 kilometres away from central Kunming and it comprises five scenic areas: Diehong Bridge, Sanjiao Caves, Dasha Dam, Alu Long and Mingyue Lake, covering 175 square kilometers. However, this beautiful natural wonder is most popular for its karst caves that have formations in a plethora of shapes and are brilliantly lit in order to amplify their beauty. There is a lot to explore and for those who do not love walking, cable cars can take visitors from one area to another. Getting there: Visiting Shilin and Jiuxiang on the same day is a very good idea, therefore renting a car or taking a taxi up to the Stone Forest is the best thing to do and you could ask your hotel staff to arrange one for you. A return journey should cost you 250 to 300 Yuan. If you are looking for a cheaper option, bus connections, albeit complicated, are available. The tickets for Jiuxiang come for about 120 Yuan and a lot of walking is involved. Since you will be spending up to six hours travelling, try and leave early in the morning in order to wrap up your tour by evening.
During my tour to China, I visited some of the most important ancient capitals where I marveled at the grand palaces and other imperial relics. Afterwards I journeyed into Yunnan for a fascinating discovery of ethnic culture and scenic wonders.