Apprehensive before entering China as heard many stories that no-one spoke English. Also did not know that Facebook and Google were blocked in China. After arriving in Kunming was helped by fellow Chinese travelers at the youth hostel with a VPN for my mobile and laptop. So back online after a little scare.
From Kunming moving North along Tibetan Autonmous Region. Took much longer than planned and renewal of Visa in Chengdu
Transportation Options and Experience
China roads are excellent except in the remote mountainous regions if you have to do detours. But it makes for much more of an interesting journey. To Kunming the 3rd class coaches were luxury compared with the SE Asia trains so far. Hard to be believe they call them "hard seats". But travel in the mountains was done by shared car or mini-bus.
Walk-abouts in traveled through Cities
1st leg to make it to Chengdu, then make a decision to go Silk Route of the Trans Siberian Railway
Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-la, Feilai Temple
From the border got the 1st train to Kunming. Stayed in the High Above Youth Hostel and owner recommended a route North from there. He was a hiker and recommended the aforementioned places. And this is what I did.
VIRTUAL TOUR - Old Town Dali, Yunnan Province China (4 Picture multimedia node)
Had planned to go up the East Coast but after talking to hostel owner in Kunming decided to head North Eastern part of the country as was very scenic and good trekking country. First stop was Dali (Right click for full-screen. Click photo and drag mouse to navigate the 360)
VIRTUAL TOUR - Lijiang, Yunnan Province China (4 Picture multimedia node)
Met Terry (student from Guangzhou) at Dali station and we traveled together to Lijiang. Terry set me up with a mobile VPN and his mother knew Lijiang very well so I had a very fortunate experience to meet him. (Right click for full-screen. Click photo and drag mouse to navigate the 360)
VIRTUAL TOUR - Shangril-la, Pudacuo National Park and Meili Snow Mountain Deqing, Yunnan Province China. With 2 EMEDDED VIDEOS IN THIS PANO.
Now heading higher up into the mountains to a place called Shangrila. At the hostel they were organizing a trek the following day and I joined in. I probably will not ever beat this trek for the scenery and lack of other humans for such a beautiful place. Then went further North to Deqen to see the sunrise of the Meili Mountains and if you see the sun hit the top of the mountain you will have 1 year of good fortune (Right click for full-screen. Click photo and drag mouse to navigate the 360)
Doacheng (Litang and Garze) to Yaqing, Seda/Sertar to Chengdu
As did not have a permit to enter the Autonomous Region of Tibet had to make over 1000km detour back down to Shangri-la and then up again and across to Chengdu. Had to make stopovers a couple of times but objective was to see Yaqing and Seda/Sertar before going to Chengdu
VIRTUAL TOUR - Yaqing and Seda/Sertar, Sichuan China
Two of the largest centers for the practice and study of Buddhism in the world (Right click for full screen. Click photo and drag mouse to navigate the 360)
Xian, Lanzhou, Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Turpan and Kashgar
After Renewing my Chinese Visa in Chengdu, made a point to visit Xi'an before taking the Silk Route rather than the Trans Siberian Railway
VIRTUAL TOUR - Terracotta Army, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province China. With 1 EMBEDDED VIDEO IN THIS PANO
China's 1st Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum (Right click for full screen. Click photo and drag mouse to navigate the 360)
VIRTUAL TOUR - Great Wall of China in Jiayuguan, Gansu Province, China. With 1 EMBEDDED VIDEO IN THIS PANO
The end of the Great Wall of China, walked 27km this day (Right click for full screen. Click photo and drag mouse to navigate the 360)
Less than $50USD/day
In China my strategy was to stay in Youth Hostels as catering more for adventurous travelers and a younger generation I was more than likely to meet people of the same interest and who speak English. This proved to be the case, but also meant I had to compromise a few times on having a single room with en-suite bathroom. So got used to staying in dormitory accommodation. With this approach I was very much under my budget of $50USD / day. Including food and transportation. Remember .. no taxis! 🙂
Below is a collection of photos of nearly each place I stayed in China. I have made formal reviews on Google Maps as well as the relevant online booking site. A couple of them I booked through the China International Youth Hostel Website. But mostly Booking.com or Hostel World.
My favourite memory song for China ...