I don't sleep well and avoid falling asleep again from 5.30. The breakfast cannot be ordered until 7 o'clock and they take forever. So I have to put a napkin around the toasts and take them with me when I run out at 7.30. I have to be at the bus stop between 7.30 and 7.40. A bus will arrive? that has picked up Sophia first? It's 7.45 when she shouts from the sidewalk. How did she get there? "I took a taxi". The plans are apparently altered a bit. We have to go to a corner and wait. A bus is already there but has wrong license plates. And it's the other corner. It's past 8 until a minibus turns up with two passengers already. It's a woman driver and she jumps around in the traffic, while she speaks in her mobile. We go to a street where all the tour busses are. I pay the 340 RMB for the two of us, but I don't think I get any ticket. We get into a bus and wait together with all the others. I've tried this before so all is fine. The bus has to be full before we can leave. Sophia says that they told her we've had it cheaper, so we shouldn't tell the others. I say: "That's what they tell everybody". "Yes, maybe". Maybe we DID have it cheaper - who knows? Then there are TOO many passengers and we change with the bus in front. Everyone out and everyone in again. Then we're ready to leave. The girl that sold the tickets and probably was the one who phoned Sophia "and was angry", is our guide. She's the rather hard-boiled type that noone is going to fool. After a few seconds she starts. The words come streaming from her mouth like water to the microphone. She must be breathing from time to time but it's hard to tell. After some time I feel sleep coming. She's worse than "the churning yellow megaphone" on my Yangtze cruise. She must have stopped at some moment, because I succeed staying awake, until we can talk again, Sophia and I.
First stop is a jade center. From the outside it doesn't show of much, but inside it's huge with jade of all kinds - and prizes. We find f.ex. a bracelet for 200.000 yuan.
The newly rich chinese are not only rich, they're stinking rich. At the wall I suddenly hear the sound of someone slapping another. It's a younger couple, who obviously disagree on something. There is just two words: violent husband. He slaps her another time and she tries crying to explain, but he's shouting into her face. When I later ask Sophia what she felt about the incident, she hasn't seen anything. It takes a good portion of good will, I'd say. I think the chinese are clever to look the other way and not interfere. On the other hand they're alsso very curious.
Next stop is a place where they sell silver the same way.
One of the places we've been mixed up with 3 police officers from Gansu Province (up north), who are at a conference/course in Kunming, I think about drug dealing, which they know all about in Yunnan, that borders Myanmar. The reason is that they would like a photo with me. They have it.
Next stop is a temple. We have a special temple guide, who also churns. We are given some yellow scarfs and end in front of the golden Buddha. I withdraw when the rest are told to kneel in a long row doing these respectfull bows with the abdomen while their empty palms are turned towards the Buddha. All get a number - a figure on a yellow piece of paper. They have to keep it until later when the monk will tell them about their future life. It's 10 RMB. I walk with one of the policemen, who apparently feels that 10 here and 10 there quickly will add up. We go to the next stage which is also 10 RMB. We end up subjecting the Buddha lead by a monk. 3 times. I might have withdrawn here too, but we get a small "golden" heart with a stamped picture.
When I later ask Sophia what she thinks of this mixture of money and religion, her answer is partly "but I want to do it", meaning she doesn't care about the "outside" circumstances, it's the act and the attitude that count, partly that this is the way the temple is maintained. All the way through in this tour I have a feeling of hidden underlying agreements and exchange of money.
But actually there's no kind of "religion tax" in China like in Denmark.
Then it's lunch time. This should be included. It is - and very good. A
turntable so that the dishes get around. None of these are spicy compared to the
We've followed the old main road until now I think, but now it's time for a bit of highway to Shilin, as is the name of The Stone Forrest".
I thought we would be let into the area to walk around by ourselves. I got the impression from Lonely Planet, but not on this tour. Understandable, they need to take us all back home at the same time. So we're given yet another guide here. And then it's another 30 extra pr. person. I'm not surprised. Sophia has a fifty note and I have a 10'er and I tell her she'll have the rest later. We walk the road - nice asphalt, to wait for a "tivoli" car. And then we ride around The Stone Forrest and stop from time to time to take photos. We're been in the loveliest sunshine until now, but when we've started the final walk it starts to rain. The rain turns into a thunder storm. It's not the first time I'm in a rather mythical locality in a thunder storm. It makes it all a LITTLE more ominous. But besides this it's like danish summer wheather. Sophia, who has lauded Yunnan for it's comfortable climate in advance, claims it's exeptional. But not more than she'd brought an umbrella, and we have good use of it. Some of the rocks have got names. I only remember 'Er shi ma', a mythic chinese woman. She wore a basket on her back. Even it rains heavily for some time it ends up as a funny element in the daily programme. I'm a bit wet on my back but one of the policemen is drenched to the bone. We end the walk inside where we are served 4 different kinds of tea, which all of course are availible for money.
They're quite different and fine in each their way.
Then we're heading home on the expressway. Sophia thinks there's one
more stop, and I don't really believe her. But there is. In a hospital!
When we enter the hall an argument evolves between an elderly couple and
our guide. She can normally talk one's head off and shoots some bursts,
but the two of them gets to her. They pushes her into a corner and
shouts into her face one after the other. Every time she tries to escape
they fall over her. Especially the man curses her ( I guess) and if she
tries to say something the woman shoots live ammonition. It goes that
far, that you can't tell if she's going to break into tears and turns
several times into rough and tumble. Everyone stands at a suitable
distance. In the end a younger man tries to intervene. It goes on for at
least five minutes. Sophia also participate in the discussion, so a
little later I know that it's all a matter of the ticket for The Stone
Forrest. The guide had tickets for us, but for some unknown reasons they
cannot be handed over to them - we didn't get ours either. There's no
explanation why. It's as the chinese who are normally VERY patient gets
far off the limit when they get a suitable reason. It's not the first
time I've seen it. When they turn into rage - they REALLY turns into
Why are we here?: foot massage!
We are taken to a room and sat down. Then comes the bassins with hot water and some added powder - and it IS hot. While a lady comes in and start churning, I succeed having my feet dipped into the hot water, so I'll be ready for the masseuse. There comes even a doctor who feels your pulse and look at your tongue and make a diagnosis. Sophia asks if I want to be testet. Yes, sure.
He doesn't seem too happy about this, but she persuades him. (I'm probably not a potential future customer)
He feels my pulse at both wrists and look at my tongue. Afterwards I'm told, that he said I might have some "digestive problems" and that's actually true. I have been some more often to the toilet these last days after some pain in my stomach during the days. So if that's what he meant, I am calm. His conversation with Sophia turns into anger from his side. I ask her later why? Well, she'd asked for something for her mothers problems with sleep and then she'd asked for his telephone number, so that her mother could phone him. Then I understand he turned a little angry, but he shouldn't according to chinese conditions, she thinks. I am dropped at a bus stop and takes the bus back home. It's 19 when I'm home. It was a long day - but we really got full value for the money!