Mini-visit to Kunming, City of Eternal Spring
Trip Start Jul 05, 2008
30Trip End Aug 30, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
We were only in Kunming for about a day. We had no idea what to expect from Kunming, and I was very suprised. Firstly, it was about 22 degrees and dry, not something I was used to at all after living 2 years in the tropics! Certainly a welcome break from sticky, sweltering Hanoi! It was pleasant just to walk around Kunming, without sweating to death or being hassled by touts. There certainly aren't many foreigners in Kunming, but the locals were very respectful. I think I was expecting to be rudely gawked at, a la Taiwan, but that was not the case. Some people would look at us curiously, but would quickly look away if we caught them, almost like they were embarrassed and sorry to have been caught. I found the people there unwaveringly polite. Kunming would definitely be a good place to spend a couple of days enjoying China.
We went to a renowned tea store, Ten Ren, which is part of the same chain in Taiwan that was always my favorite place to buy tea. They sat us down and explained all the differences between the teas to us, and poured us cup after cup to sample. It was very relaxing. I bought alot of tea!
Wandering around Kunming was a very pleasant experience. It took me awhile to figure out why it felt so strange, and I realized it was because of all the space around me. After 2 years of living in Taiwan, and 2 months of travelling in south east asia, I am used to having huge crowds pressed up together everywhere I go and lots of traffic on the streets. Kunming felt closer to Vancouver... very very wide streets and sidewalks, with hardly anyone on them at all (SEP http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/17865.html), and big open parks. So much room to move! Not what I'm used to anymore. I felt like I should spread my arms and spin around in a circle. It was just... so... open. Weeeirrrrd.
Kunming has a big pedestrian boulevard in the middle of the city, maybe 1/2 km wide and 3km long, that is closed to traffic. At night everyone seems to go there with their friends and family, and it's kind of like a sidewalk festival. We walked around there for awhile, doing the exhaustion shuffle. Wow we were soooo tired. Even so far from Beijing, everything was decked out for the Olympics. It was just everywhere. Olympic pavilions, signs, banners, displays, everywhere you looked. There were lots of people watching events on huge screens, like they were frozen in time.
The next morning we slept through the alarm, which caused a panicky rush to the airport to catch our flight to Beijing. Even so early in the morning, the airport was insane!!! Huge crowds of people trying to get in. You had to go through airport security before even entering the airport, and then again for boarding. There was police and security everywhere. This was our initiation into the widespread police presence that we'd encounter because of the Olympics. We made the flight, and now we are in Beijing!!!!!