Now you are really out there.
Hekou is your first taste of travel far from the beaten path. The Lonely Planet and other guide books contain no information on the area, which can be unsettling in a not-too-friendly border town like Hekou.
You stroll down "Vietnam Street," a stone's throw from the country itself. People along the street examine you without smiling. The next train leaves this evening, but you just got here and the hotel is really cheap.
Many locals live in bamboo shanties, waiting for an economic opportunity. With luck, the completion of the Kunming-Haiphong railroad will fulfill their wish. The railroad line was started at the turn of the century by French colonialists. Only 2 km of track remain to complete the line and to link western China to Vietnamese ports.
The roofs of Hekou and the hills of Vietnam.
At dinner, the restaurant owner overcharges you, but repays you with advice. She recommends a bus trip into the remote Yunnan countryside to see some of the minority people in the region. Otherwise, you could spend the night or rejoin the less adventurous, (and safer) travelers in Yangshuo.
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