There is a relatively new direct road between Qiubei (the county town a few km from Puzhehei) to Guangnan, which goes through sparsely inhabited karst land, no need to go back to the expressway. That road is just a bit over 100km.
Both busses will arrive sometime the next morning, I would estimate the travel time to be 12-15 hours: about 6-8 hours to Puer (Simao, all expressway), then another 4-5 to Lancang (a smaller road with not much traffic), and another 2 to Menglian (another smaller road, plus the bus might stop in Lancang for breakfast). Sleeper busses sometimes take their time, but you should be there before noon the next day.
If you wanted to travel faster, take a plane to Simao (can be pretty cheap), then a bus from there. If you took a morning flight, you could be in Menglian in the evening.
Menglian is one of the furthest destinations from Kunming and one of the few county towns that does not have a day bus to Kunming, however AFAIK there are two sleeper busses a day from the southern station, one leaving around 3pm, the other around 6pm.
Photos of the time tables from the southern station at www.yunnanexplorer.com/transport/station/kunming-south/
Best to buy tickets in advance from one of the ticket agents in the city center, but if you do not have time for this, just head down to the southern station which is a long way from central Kunming. Should the busses be sold out, you can also travel to Lancang 澜沧 which is only one hour from Menglian and connections are easy.
Jim Goodman, the veteran researcher and writer who was recently featured on GoKM, has just published another book, this time on the people of the Red River area, called "The Terrace Builders: the Hani and their Neighbors in Yunnan's Ailao Mountains".
Available for the Kindle: www.amazon.com/[...]
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It is rare to find good approximations of western food anywhere in China and their lamb-chops (listed as lamb T-bone steak or so) were the best I have found so far. They came with good fries and the beer was cold. I liked the way that they serve the gloopy 'black-pepper sauce' separately, so one can just skip it. Pleasant and quick service too.
A pleasant modern eatery. The menu claims the chef worked for a large Chinese chain of Thai restaurants, but the Thai aspect of the food is difficult to find.
I gave the 'boneless chicken feet' a miss and had some spicy beef which while not bad was closer to the usual Sichuan fare than anything Thai. A dog under the table quickly lapping up any dropped food complemented the Sichuan experience.
The spring rolls were not bad though and together with a beer the bill came to Y58.
Easiest improvement would be better rice.
Easily the best bread to be found in Yunnan with friendly and efficient service. I have made detours to Dali just to pick up some bread on the way back to Kunming.