Coming To Kunming

26th August 2017

Art in the ParkHaving said goodbye to Rob and family in Taiwan we head for the airport by train, which is all very straightforward. We are curious about how China will compare with Taiwan and how we will manage without having family to translate and look after us. It was with this in mind that we have pre-booked a driver, hotels and an exciting itinerary in Yunnan province, China. We were met at Kunming airport by Teddy, who has great English and soon had us settled in our hotel. We are glad we were not driving as buses, cars and bikes whizzed everywhere. The bikes are silent electric scooters, so when walking you have to keep your wits about you.

Reflective viewsOnce refreshed it was off to Green Lake Park to walk around this quiet area away from the bustle of the city. This is great for people watching, by us and of us, as the locals do not see many westerners. There are temples, bridges and huge ponds covered in lotus plants, unfortunately we are just too early to see them in full bloom. The “eco graffiti” was interesting, with locals painting Chinese characters on the pavement using just water. Very effective but gone by the morning.

Street ArtOn the drive back to our hotel we decide that in this city, which is as populated as London, the drivers are just as rushed but with less lane discipline. There are more scooters than pushbikes and it is quite dangerous for pedestrians as many do not have lights at night. As expected, most shop signs are in Chinese script, but we do recognise a few such as Carrefour and Starbucks! Even the car’s sat nav system needs input in Chinese with Teddy using a stylus to draw characters and the computer doing the handwriting/symbol recognition.

Quite a landslideThe next morning, the surprise was a western breakfast of fried eggs and toast, as we are way off the westerners tourist trail and we had steeled ourselves to expect noodles and congee. The weather, contrary to forecasted rain and thunderstorm showers is mainly cloudy and a lot cooler than Taiwan. There has been torrential rain recently and this causes a slight hiccup in our itinerary as the road to the Bamboo Temple , on the hills outside of Kunming, is closed due to a mud landslide. Undeterred we park up and continue the last two kilometres up the windy road to the top of the hill on foot.

Sneaky picture of the MonasteryWe pass two major landslides that have taken away the edge of the road and its easy to see why it has been closed. When we arrive at the temple entrance the signs say closed but the workmen outside show us a temporary entrance which takes us inside. After taking a few photos, we are spotted by an official and asked to leave. Apparently, a third landslide behind the buildings has made the area unsafe. Definitely a shame we could not have the full tour as the temple is famous for having pictures of 500 arhats (enlightened people) and from what we saw, the buildings and statues would have been worth a longer linger.

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