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I woke up to the sound of my alarm at 5:00 AM and hit snooze. 5:15 AM rolled around. Snooze again. 5:30 AM. SNOOZE. 6:00 AM. OKAY, I’LL GET UP! After driving all day to the different areas of Dongchuan Red Land on Day 2, the day ahead was a long, mountainous drive to Yuanyang. The GPS informed us we had around six hours on the road, but little did she know about the conditions that lay ahead.

China is a huge country and it falls under a single time zone. This time of year in southwestern China the daybreaks around 7:40 AM. I had planned for driving during the day, but I didn’t consider the late arrival of the sun in the morning. We are driving in an unfamiliar city town in the dark looking for a fuel station. We fuel up and hit the road southbound on the G80 highway.

This isn’t your normal highway. It’s driving through the mountains with steep inclines, miles long downhill stretches, and very sharp turns. With the oohhing and awwing from yesterday, there was a lot of wowing and woahing on this drive. There is an ample supply of beautiful scenery here that is unmatched anywhere else in the country.

At one point, there was a sign that read “The Highest Bridge in the World”. I actually found that hard to believe and had to do some on-the-road investigating. It was the highest bridge in the world but it no longer holds that title which goes to the Beipanjiang Bridge which is also in Yunnan Province linking to Guizhou Province. The excitement wore quickly and we decided not to stop at the previous holder of the highest bridge in the world and continued onto Yuanyang.

The G80 highway led us to County Road X102 following the Red River. The GPS indicates we are just over halfway to our destination and we need a place to stop and rest. As we’re barreling down the road, we turn a corner and there is an out-of-place area with neat landscaping, a wooden deck, and a place to pull over. It was a so-called “Mirage in the desert.” Except, in this case, it’s a real place.

Red River Viewing Platform
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The Mirage in the Desert

 

Hello, Red River Valley
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Hello Indeed!

 

We actually stopped twice. The first time was at some random place along the Red River before we found the viewing platform about 20 minutes earlier. We spent nearly an hour between the two places on the Red River taking in the scenery and stillness of nature. I could have sat there listening to the river flowing and birds chirping until the sunset.

Red River by Logan Wenger. Click the image to view available licensing information.
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Red River by Logan Wenger. Click the image to view available licensing information.

 

A couple more images from Red River

Blooming bush next to the Red River
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Blooming bush next to the Red River

 

Barren mountains next to the Red River
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Barren mountains next to the Red River

 

Driving Up the Mountains

The final stretch of the drive is not for the faint of heart. The road narrows drastically and there just enough room for two cars to pass. At several places you can look out the window and see a cliff off the edge of the road that drops hundreds of feet. There aren’t many guardrails and it’s not a good idea to drive it at night.

Yuanyang to Duoyishu Village
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The mountain road from Yuanyang to Pugao, Duoyishu Village. Screenshot via Google Maps. Click the link to see it on Google Maps.

We have been in the car around seven hours at this point and we’re ready to get to our destination before sunset. We’re driving along looking around when seemingly out of nowhere a security guard dressed in black yells “STOP!” We were confused as to what is happening. All he kept saying was we cannot pass and go in this entrance.

It took several minutes of back and forth before we realized this is the place to purchase tickets to the area. We knew ahead of time we had to pay a fee, we just didn’t know there would be a guy standing in the road searching for out of town license plates. It was an odd situation, but we paid the fee for three days and went on our way.

We finally made it to Jacky’s Guesthouse (referral link) around 5:30 PM with a few hours to spare for the sunset. The drive from Kunming to Duoyishu Village is completely worth it. If you have the opportunity to do this stretch of the road-trip, I highly recommend it. It will leave you with a different perspective of China and bring you closer to the mountains.

Terraced Sunset

This is why we drove nearly nine hours to this area:

Bada Terrace Sunset by Logan Wenger
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Bada Terrace Sunset by Logan Wenger

Thank you for reading this post and browsing my images. Be sure to leave a comment below and visit my photography store for paper prints, wall art, keepsakes, and digital downloads.

 


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