Day 1 Sapa to Kunming

Trip Start Mar 23, 2012
1
33
Trip End Jun 01, 2012


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What I did
Communal urinating trough
Pagodas

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Friday, March 23, 2012

We had to get up at seven in the morning to get the first minivan down the mountain to Lao Cao, the town on the border with China. It was the quickest and most professional border crossing we have been through in South East Asia, however the Chinese border guard took around 10 minutes (it felt longer) to look at my passport. It was probably because I am no longer 14, pale and dark haired like in the photo. We were lucky enough though to be able to keep our Lonely Planet China guide as we'd heard that they tend to take them off of travelers but it was all wrapped up in brown paper and hidden in the bottom of the rucksack.
         The first thing we noticed was that we weren't the target of touts, taxi drivers, hotel owners and mysterious men whispering "weed" at us (we did however see old chinese ladies selling live tortoises on the side of the road which was unsettling). It was incredible how different the town was to Vietnam, the place was much more modern and prosperous. The people looked smarter and more professional. Our two jobs were to change some Vietnamese Dong we had left over and find the bus station. I had memorised the directions and we followed them to no avail, where it should have been was filled with dirty trucks and no one seemed to be bothered that we had walked into their courtyard. Giving up slightly we headed to change the money, three banks and a lot of hand signals later we had to give up on that as well. Luckily a nice girl from the Bank of China told us that the bus station was out of town and we should get a taxi. After a quick taxi we were in the bus station, we booked one for an hour later and sat back with a chinese pot noodle. 
          The bus was better than any SEA'n one, although the Chinese like to spit into the bins provided so its hard to get any real peace. After a passport check we rushed for a couple of hours along a brand new motor-way which was almost completely empty, however the bus soon ground to a halt as we switched onto a two lane dirt road. Most cars didn't wait in the queue and would rush up the free lane only to be greeted by a truck coming the only way which slowed the process considerably. We were stuck for 1 and half hours the first time and smaller periods after. The highlight was a toilet stop, the toilets in China are very special. There were two communal troughs, one for guys one for girls, the girls have it worse as they have to squat over the trough making sure they don't slip in while the next person waiting just stares at you (there are no dividers/doors). 
      We arrived in Kunming after 10 very long hours, after haggling with an outrageous mini van driver (20 for the 5km ride in!) we managed to flag a taxi to take us to our hostel. I had written down the name of places near our hostel and showed this to him, we wouldn't of had a clue otherwise. Amazingly the hotel was easy enough to find and after chatting to the manager we headed out to find food. It was freezing, we weren't sure if we were being wimps or if it was actually that cold. It turned out to be 3c, with us in flip flops and every warm item we own it wasn't quite enough.  McDonalds or KFC were our choice for food, we had two big macs, some chips and a weird grilled chicken burger that we didn't eat. 
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