Next stop: Shilin
Getting to Shilin to visit its Stone Forest is very simple if you are staying in Kunming. There are coaches and organised excursions there that leave from the city to visit this amazing destination. It’s estimated that over 20,000 people visit this stone forest every day.
The Naigu Stone Forest and the village of Suogeyi were declared World Heritage Sites in 2007 by UNESCO. And with good reason. Although the place looks almost unreal, there is a convincing scientific explanation for its formation: the Stone Forest is the result of the erosion and seismic activity that has been occurring in the area for over 270 million years. The more imaginative prefer to believe a less rational explanation and link the spot to a great variety of myths. For example, that the gods made holes in the mountain so that lovers could have privacy. Another one of the legends is that the forest is the birthplace of the mythical heroine Ashima, a young girl of the “Yi” people who represents women’s virtues. According to this tale, an evil prince wanted his son to marry Ashima. She refused and he therefore decided to kidnap her. When Ashima’s brother went to rescue her, the evil prince cast a spell to cause a flood that washed the young girl away. Her spirit lives forever in the rock.
Once there, leaving science and legend to one side, what is most important is to allow your gaze to drift between the rocks shaped like sharpened needles and the paths that intersect them. Everything is vegetation, both paths and steps, which together with the formation of underground rivers, caves, passages and bridges make the forest an enchanted city. Buildings have been constructed throughout the forest in a Mandarin architectural style so that visitors can rest and enjoy the scenery. Our recommendation is that you visit the Wenfeng pavilion. The view from here will be enough to make you understand why the Chinese consider this stone forest to be the first wonder of the world.