Sunday, August 17, 2014

Shaxi - Yunnan, China

11th - 14th Aug 2014:

In Shangri-La We moved to N's Guesthouse as 517 only had the expensive rooms left. They did a great yakburger and rooms were good value but we were ready to move on so checked out and made our way to Sha Xi. To get to Sha Xi you have to book a ticket to Jian Chuan, from there it's a 10RMB packed minibus ride to the small town. Although small, Sha Xi had to be one of our favourite stops on this trip. The buildings are beautiful and in the most part authentically old unlike other places we had been. The pace is relaxed and the people honest and friendly. We spent the first day relaxing in the square watching a film crew shooting for a phone advert. Later we spent some time getting purposely lost amongst the back lanes. We stayed at the guest house Horse Pen 46 in the square. Our room was small but quirky, our toilet was positioned at the end of the bed! A St. Bernard and Tibetan Mastiff lounged around the courtyard and received a belly scratch or two (they would have received more if they weren't so smelly!).

The toilet at the end of the room :o)

The sleepy dog
Shooting the advert

Chilling at the cafe
The temple in the square

The backstreets of Shaxi
For dinner we found an amazing hotel called Cindura-Di, whilst to stay there would be comparitively expensive, you can enjoy a delicious meal in the luxury surroundings of the courtyard at increadibly reasonable prices. The food is lovingly prepared by Fiona, who when she found out about our fragile stomachs set about arranging some special tea and mint drops. The hotel is a Taiwanese family run business and incredibly hospitable.

The stunning reception area

Being treated like royalty

Highly recommended

The second day we wanted to visit Shibao Shan (stone treasure mountain) to see the temples and excellent views. Arranged via the Horse Pen 46 Hostel, it was 200 RMB return for the driver to take us to the mountain and two temples in a small van which we shared with two other tourists, Laura and Matti from Italy. We found these guys after asking around to see who wanted to share the trip costs with us. There was a bit of a situation when the moto driver they had already had preliminary discussions with saw us approaching the car to leave Shaxi and moaned until Matti gave him some money for not going with him. You aways hear about how important it is to 'save face' in China but from what we saw on this trip it must have a different meaning this country!

Another long and windy road eventually took us to the ticket gate, where upon the driver's advice, Kate ducked down in the back to save on a ticket cost (we let Matti have this saving to make up for paying the whining driver off). We asked the driver to take us to the farthest temple, Shizhong Temple (Stone Bell Temple), to begin with. We could immediately see why this was one of the first nature reserves to be officially protected by China. There are countless grottoes, shrines and stone carvings many dating back around 500 years. The forest walks are beautiful and the views are sprinkled with smaller temples and shrines along the mountainside. Note that you do need a ticket to enter but we got past this with the 'I must have left it in the car' routine'.

Village on the mountain side

A statue in one of the grottoes

Some interesting geology
After a couple of hours we headed back to the car and made our way back towards the other temple of merit, Baoxiang Temple (Scenic Treasure Temple). Monkeys were rife here and we heard they could be aggressive to visitors but we didn't encounter any difficulties. We thoroughly enjoyed the sights of this temple, some old some new, and it was truly a beautiful setting amongst stone cliffs, forest and waterfalls. Well worth the trip. Upon return our driver asked for a little more money for us taking longer than we should have done but this did little to dampen a noteworthy trip.

At Baoshi Temple

Monkey posing

Monkey family and friends
The evening was topped when we enjoyed some amazing Italian food at The Hungry Buddha restaurant. We had briefly attempted to find it before with no luck, but Matti and Laura knew the owners and were able to show us to the small restaurant just off the main square (if coming down the longer street from where minivans drop off their passengers, keep going straight past the square and it is the second business on your left). We are both foodies, spoiled after living in Jersey, even so I can't recommend this restaurant enough. If you like good western food, especially Italian food, it would be a crime to leave Shaxi without eating here.

Maurie along with his wife and team prepare the food right in front of you, all of it is sourced locally or made in house. They even have a selection of home made cheeses of the highest standard (anyone who values good cheese knows that in most parts of China it is as rare as rocking horse poo). After we discovered the Hungry Buddha we didn't eat anywhere else. The pizzas and cheeses are sublime but everything on the menu is fantastic and reasonably priced considering the time and love that goes into the food. Washed down with excellent wine and great vibes (the small 8 seater square setup encourages conversation so a great place to make friends) you get a real homely feel and will definitely leave with a smile on your face.

Maurie and his wife

Happy customers

Fine trio of desserts

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  1. Glad you love Shaxi as much as we do. Hope you'll have a chance to come through again and stay with us at Old Theatre Inn, a restored Ming Dynast heritage hotel in Duan Village. The website is You can also see the work we're doing on local temple restoration at
    Safe travels!
    Sam & Chris

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    2. Thanks. Best of luck with the hotel and well done for the good work at the temple!