Jianshui & Swallows Cavern

15th April 2004.

Jianshui is a two hour bus journey from Gejiu so we broke it up with a visit to Swallow Cave (famous for the birds that breed there).

Jianshui was described in our book as the most traditional of towns in Yunnan province - we had high expectations. The town is supposed to be famous for its purple pottery, we didn't see any so we are not sure what happened there (maybe we were in the wrong town).

Swallow Cave boasts the largest cavern in Asia. It has the Lu river running through it which means you can take a boat through the cave.  The tourist board have gone to town with their fluorescent lighting, making it easy to feel like you are exploring a natural cave..... They have even built toilets, shops and even a smoking room for people to use inside it - real class.

The banners in the photo show where the little men dressed in yellow circus outfits ascend to make sure that the swallows nests are ok in the stalagtites.  They must be doing something right as thousands of birds flock here and buzz around. It is surprising that they have stayed here at all with the very loud piped pan music and booming microphone of the tour guides.

Here you are made to take this cheesy boat out of the cave, but first you have to spend half an hour in the shop and smoking room!

Shortly before this picture was taken, Claire had told off 5 grown men who were trying to knock down a 30,000 year old stalactite as a souvenir.  They ran off like cheeky schoolboys.

We thought it might be interesting for those of you who hadn't been to China to see a fairly clean male toilet. We refrained from showing you the woman's as all the randomly scattered sanitary towels would put you off your breakfasts...

NB: it is not the urinal, this is where you squat for your number 2s and read the paper (or smoke if you are Chinese).

Never throw anything away when you can use it as a light decoration...this blue pot is infact an old water purification container. Many of these lights surround the main tourist attract here contrasting beautifully with the 750 year old temple, lake and water lilies.

One of the reason we came here was to see this tourist attraction.......it seems that things have changed since our guide book was published.

These are the grounds of the Confucian temple which has for 750 years been operating as a school. Here you can see the Chinese boys really busy at their study leap frogging each other.

Claire plays with the bells outside the temple as Jason wouldn't let her beat the drum.

Jianshui is the kind of play you just chill out in the afternoon and play cards.

Locals enjoy a tobacco water-bong.  They must put strong stuff in the bongs as any tourists we have seen bonging, turn green and fall over.

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