Student Blogs

Vacation in Paradise

February 13th, 2014 shjin15

Picture 60 to 70 degree weather, shorts on shorts, and beautiful sunshine everyday. But wait! –it gets better. There’s a gorgeous view of snow-capped mountains right in your backyard, and the bluest sky as far as the eye can see. No pollution, no snow, no homework! That was my life for the past week. I could not have asked for a better travelling experience, or for better travel companions to take it with.

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I love these goofballs


If you ever have to travel, do it with a group of four people. Even though the number four (sĭ) means death in Chinese, travelling-wise, four is a smart number. It’s perfect for finding seating at restaurants, perfect for booking beds at hotels and hostels, and perfect for filling up a cab. Like Goldilocks said, not too small, not too big… it’s the perfect size!

My friends and I at Tiger Leap (Shangrila).

My friends and I at Tiger Leap (Shangrila).

More China traveling tips: I would not recommend taking Sichuan Airlines. Alyssa, Mike, and I had a two-hour delay at the airport, and when we finally got on the airplane, it felt like a rollercoaster.  Alyssa almost threw up, and Mike was scared to death. The only good thing was the airplane food was actually quite delicious.

We met up with our friend James (click his name to check out his blog!- it’s hilarious) in Kunming. He gave us a tour of Erhai, a BEAUTIFUL lake right outside of his hotel, and a street of trendy little restaurants and cafes in his neighborhood. Did I mention that he is studying in Kunming next semester – and that he lives in a hotel??? To top it off, he gets to enjoy the beautiful weather for the whole semester! Life is really unfair sometimes.

That night, we got abroad a sleeper train to Dali City. It was my first time on a sleeper train. We got hard sleeper tickets, cause the soft sleeper tickets were sold out. I was expecting to sleep on wooden boards, but the hard sleepers were pretty comfy! There are two sets of bunks in each compartment, and each bunk bed has 3 beds: a lower bunk, middle bunk, and an upper bunk.

Alyssa and James chillin' on the lower bunk.

Alyssa and James chillin’ on the lower bunk.

Our first official day of vacation started with Dali City, and it was one of the best days of my life. We woke up in the morning and rented bikes and mopeds (electric motorcycles) for the day. Renting bikes for the day only cost $5 per bike! That’s crazy, because renting bikes in NYC are about $30 per HOUR. We biked from 11am ‘til maybe about 6pm. Biking around the city allowed us to cover more ground, and see all of the beautiful sights.

Backroads of a countryside farm

Backroads of a countryside farm

The sky was so pretty... it looked like a fake movie scene background.

The sky was so pretty… it looked like a fake movie scene background.

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Everything in this city looked beautiful!

The little alleyways felt like we could've been riding Vespas in Italy or Spain or something.

The little alleyways felt like we could’ve been riding Vespas in Italy or Spain or something.

Our next stop was Lijiang. We actually didn’t spend too much time in Lijiang, instead, we headed towards Shangrila and decided to hike for two days at the Tiger Leaping Gorge. It’s basically two gorgeous mountains with a gorge/valley type thing in between them, with a river running through it. Legend has it that at the middle of the gorge, a tiger leaped from a stone on one side of the gorge to the other. The views were spectacular, and we stayed at a guesthouse at the top of the mountain. During the nighttime we went to the rooftop, played some music on James’ speakers, and snuggled up with blankets under the stars. Being a city girl, I’ve never seen so many stars in my life!!! That night, I slept so comfortably with these nice heated sleeping pads that the guesthouse gave us, and awoke to a breathtaking view of the mountains through my window.

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What is life???!?

An Insta of the view from my bedroom... incredible!

An Insta of the view from my bedroom… incredible!

We all got tan from this day!

Taking a dip in the waterfalls

Before the sun set, we practiced our slingshot skills. When night fell, this is where we star-gazed!

Before the sun set, we practiced our slingshot skills. When night fell, this is where we star-gazed!

 To end our trip, we headed back to Kunming, where we were able to meet up with one of our other friends – Brandon. We took a daytrip to the Stone Forest, and had a relaxing day roaming the Green Lake Park. We also decided to check out the nightlife scene in Kunming.

石林: Stone Forest!

石林: Stone Forest!

There were so many stones... they acted like trees.

There were so many stones… they acted like trees.

So now i’m back in Beijing, where it is currently freezing and snowing. I miss Yunnan already, and I wish I was still on vacation. However, all our Spring semester students have arrived! They’re actually all in orientation (returning students don’t need to attend orientation) as i’m writing this. So I am very excited to get to know all the new people and for Spring semester to begin!

金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)

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