This morning we got up early, still tired but excited to see the famous Stone Forest.
After a breakfast of Fruit juice milk drinks (in a bottle with extra jelly bits) and fresh pineapple we walked over to the entrance to the Stone Forest.
Severine and Francois lined up first for tickets, but soon came back empty handed. What happened, Shanna and I asked. It turned out that tickets cost 180 Yuan. Or about $30. Enough money to stay in a cheap hotel for two nights.
After a short deliberation we all decided it was too much money, and we wondered that many Chinese must never be able to enter. We considered finding another way into the park, but when we found one we chickened out, deciding it wasn't really worth rotting away in a stinking Chinese jail cell over.
However, in the process of looking for a secret entry into the park, we discovered that there were some amazing things to see outside the park boundaries. Almost immediately we chanced upon a rough hewn dirt and stone path that wound its way through around and over some incredible rock formations.
When the path came to a sudden stop we climbed some large boulders, only to be presented with a fantastic view of a beautiful lake surrounded by stone boulders. Whilst we were admiring the view a sudden gust of wind ripped Francois' new hat (that he'd bought that morning and in the meantime become very fond of) from his head, blowing it down the face of the stone we standing upon into the chasm below.
Unperturbed he made after it, climbing down the rock face until we could no longer see or hear him. After some laughter between the three of us at Francois' efforts to retrieve his AU $1.50 hat, we began to wonder if he was ok when suddenly he appeared again.
We found the path and followed it over and around until we came to the lake. Amazingly the water looked clear and clean (the first I've seen like this in Asia, so I quickly removed my shirt, run down to the edge of the water and prepared to jump in.
But, before I could make the leap my feet began sinking into the mud. Pulling my feet out of the mud I took a few steps back and leapt from a rock into the cool clear water. Surprisingly, it was a beautiful temperature, and when I got out I sat upon a large stone rock by the edge of the water, enjoying the feeling of the cool air blowing the drops of water from my skin, somehow the the sickness from the day before seemed to have past.
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia