Tag Archives: Kunming

Layover at Kunming airport

22 Apr

I was recently in the Kunming airport to do a transfer to another city in Yunnan called Tengchong.  The Kunming airport is definitely not up to the standards of the Singapore airport – with my major example being that all of the toilets in the airport (that I was able to find) are squat toilets.  This time I had a much more pleasant experience than the last time I flew through when I had some stomach trouble and the state of the bathrooms was higher on my priority list.

Since I had a couple of hours, I wandered through quite a bit of the airport and even pulled out my camera.  Because Yunnan is so close to Myanmar and Thailand, there is a lot of fruit available and some of it is very unusual.  These photos show Buddha’s hands, which I have never had, as well as the classic smelly fruit – the durian.

In addition the beautiful weather in the province means that there are beautiful flowers everywhere – even the airport.  I didn’t buy any because I was transferring and at the start of my trip, but the idea that you could buy them and bring them home was really nice.

So many beautiful flowers!

After I took these photos I still had some time so I paid 20 RMB (about $3 USD) for a chair massage and then headed to my gate.

Any favorite places for layovers?

Exploring – Kunming, Yunnan part 2

11 Dec

This is about the second part of my day exploring in Kunming.  For details about Xi Shan, please check out the previous post.

The Kunming Cultural Ethnic Minority Town was a unique experience. It was kind of like a low grade Epcot center, where they combined the traditional housing/villages of 25 different ethnic minority groups who come from all over China. It was almost deserted by the time I arrived around 2pm and all of the actors in the park looked very, very bored. I got invited to sit down and talk by pretty much every performer I saw.

The park was enormous – walking around was pretty tiring. I imagine if there were lots of tourists there and other activities it would have been a fun place to spend an afternoon, but I had already been on my feet most of the day and very few of the signs were in English.  Perhaps that is why Chinese tourists do not travel alone. However, when I had bought my ticket they had said that I could also go to the “BIG SHOW” at 3pm, so I made my way to the amphitheater – which likely easily could have sat 2000 people and found a seat towards the center.

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The show was a spectacular. There were likely over 150 performers throughout, dancing, singing and re-enacting different cultural dances and traditions. It was a snapshot of the cultures that are fast disappearing throughout China and also an affirmation that despite the single face of China – the Han people who are the overwhelming majority – China has a lot of cultural diversity, if they choose to celebrate it. I fear that most of the performers really don’t know the traditions they are celebrating – the skeptical side of me wonders if these dances occur anymore, but the optimist in me hopes that they are now preserved for future generations to view and remember and morph into new traditions.

After the show, I was ready to head back and put my feet up. I hailed a “black cab” with a very nice driver who skillfully battled rush hour traffic and got me back to the hotel in no time. A good, yet slightly strange day which finished my trip to Yunnan.

Exploring – Kunming, Yunnan part 1

8 Dec

The last day we were in Yunnan I was on my own to explore Kunming, the capital city.  Li had a series of meetings that he had to attend (hence the reason we were in Yunnan at all), but I had taken the day off from work and decided to head out and see what the town had to offer.  My original plan (to go to a place called the Bamboo Temple) was derailed when I got into the taxi cab in the morning and the driver said that it was too far and very difficult to get back from.  My secondary plan, was then to go to a place called Xi Shan (West Mountain), that was closer and also had a transportation link to the Yunnan Cultural Ethnic Minority Town, which seemed like as good as way as any to spend the day.

After just having come from Cang Shan, Xi Shan was not quite up to the same standard in terms of beautiful mountain views, but it did have some interesting temples scattered in the caves built into the cliffs.  I bought my gondola ticket and headed up the mountain with two very nice businessmen who I think were playing hooky from a day of meetings in the city.  We parted ways when I decided to get an electronic guide (in Chinese, but it had a small map on it) and I spent the rest of the day exploring alone.

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Chinese tourists do not do solo travel.  The site of a single woman traveler got me lots of strange looks, questions if I was lost and even some catcalls – Pretty woman, pretty woman, do you understand me? (said in Chinese, over and over).  In Shanghai, seeing foreigners isn’t a big deal, but here, I was special.  The entire day I saw one other foreigner and that was later at the town.

I’ll put the town as its own post as I have hit the limit of the slideshow for this one.

What would cause you to trek to the top of a mountain?  What needs to be at the other side for the experience to be “worth it?”  Is natural beauty its own reward?  Should other explorers have made their mark?  Is it sports (skiing)?  Would love to hear.

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