Around 9 am we all set off for the stone forest, an ancient forest of stone that was apparently unearthed when the waters receded from the last ice age.
Getting out of the city was a challenge, but once we were out ofthe navigating was a snitch.
We climbed a nice hill, splitting the peloton, and then after re-grouping at the summit we descended for what seemed like an eternity. I started to hope that the descent would end, the further we went down the higher we'd have to climb.
As we approached a tolled road (they are absolutely everywhere in this country) we attempted to cycle around the steaming diesel fumes, smoke and road dust, but at an innoportune moment (not that any moment is really all that opportune for a break down) Shanna's chain broke again. Four link on the chain were spectacularly damaged and it proved lucky that I'd been able to buy more replacement links whilst we were in Kunming. It was hot and stinky here but we took the time to readjust Shanna's derailleur whilst we were stopped.
Sure enough late in the afternoon and the climbing is painful, we are all breathing in copious amounts of dust and diesel fumes whilst getting honked at truck after truck. The road went up for over ten kilometers, and there were numerous times I thought we were at the summit, only to turn another corner and see the road ahead continue in an upward spiral.
Finally we reached the top, and the outer reaches of the Stone Forest. Fascinating outcrops of rock jutting awkwardly in every direction amidst a barren landscape.
Exhausted we all arrived at the Stone Forest youth/travellers hotel thingy were we decided to share a room between the four of us to help cover the exorbitant cost. Little did we realise that there was no fan, no AC and no fly screen on the windows. This wasn't so bad for Francois and Severine who had a fantastic mosquitoe net that covered the bed, but I found the heat and the noise unbearable.
What to do? Quietly we snuck into a different room. This one had bunk beds, hard ones; still hot but not so bad, and a lot less noise- we fell asleep wondering if we'd be caught...
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia