Friday, November 22, 2019

Kunming,China: Oct 2019

Andrew got a bit testy when he was asked more than once if he had his APEC card before we left the house - but I didn't want a repeat of the no-visa refusal he had in Shanghai a couple of years ago.  Our destination was Kunming, China, which is a 90 minute direct flight from Vientiane.

After an easy passage through immigration we decided to take a taxi from the airport so we could see a little of the city outskirts, in the last light of day.  Reasonable plan but it turned out we watched the sun set while sitting in a 30 minute traffic jam just outside the airport waiting to get through toll-booths onto the motorway.

Our hotel, Moon and Chalice, was a delight.  It was beautifully decorated, with all the comforts you could want  - at a very reasonable price.  They did little things such as bringing a little thermos of special tea blend to your room each afternoon.



Kunming is a nice small Chinese city of only 6 million people.  It tends to be a transit hub for most travelers heading to Dali or Lijiang.  While Kunming doesn't have lots of "must-see" tourist destinations, we were content to explore for a couple of days.



We mastered the underground transit system and made our way to the end of the line to the Western Hills Dragon gate.  We couldn't avoid going on a weekend day, and there was no end of people visiting, but it was all quite manageable.  We purchased all the tickets (buses, cable cars etc) in one go - and Andrew was super happy as he got his seniors discount.  We took the open cable car to the top of the mountain and walked through the temples carved into the hillside

There were good views over the city lake and the green mountain (really just a big hill) area


At times we were unsure exactly which way we should be walking.  There were maps, but, for us, they didn't add a lot of information as the actual landmarks didn't quite match what we were seeing on the maps.  But we kept heading downhill, and it all worked out.  


One of the places we wanted to visit was the central gardens.  There we found good food and coffee in a nearby district and there were lots of locals enjoying themselves in the park.  Chinese public dancing is so good to watch - people just really enjoying themselves, participating at whatever level of activity they are comfortable with.  Talent is not a pre-requisite.  





I made Andrew make a longish walk to the history museum at the end of a busy day.  The reason was to see a display on the Flying Tigers - an American volunteer Air Force division that for a short time was based in China during WWII.  They  were instrumental in fighting the Japanese Bombers attacking the region and nearby Burma for the 7 months that they were there.  The museum was very average, but the Flying Tiger display was educational


Food was easy and we made sure we had the most famous local dish "Over the Bridge Noodles" - a delicious soup.  An interactive meal where the ingredients were added for us at the table.  Then there were green-onion pancakes ... cumin beef, mmmm lots of good stuff.

The area we staying had been heavily renovated.  New-Old facades that were aimed at the local Instagram demographic.  There were still a large number of Chinese flags everywhere following the huge celebrations earlier in the month of 70 years of Communist rule.

The city was very approachable and people very kind to us.  It was a very nice long weekend away


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