Kunming, a Different China

Was I ready for China again?  Would China part 2 be ok?  Well, I was charged double by the taxi from the airport and checking into my hotel took about an hour where I had to use mime, play Pictionary and use a translation app. The two girls at the desk were sweet and got into the spirit of things and we laughed a lot. The only drag was they said there was no internet, without internet I had no idea what to see or where to find a good place to eat. So in desperate search of internet I hit the road and finally entered the magical realm of some golden arches. But I couldn’t log in as a Chinese number is needed to activate the wifi. I was trying to communicate all this to the server and a guy passing by who spoke little English, grabbed my phone to help me out. After ten fruitless minutes he indicated he had connected me to his office, it turned out he was the manager. Upon my return to the hotel the night shift had started and I was greeted by “Madam how may I assist you?” Music to my ears. A couple more times where I was struggling to communicate something there was someone piping up from behind me offering to help. Was this China? I was impressed and I liked this place. I confess I never thought I’d end up getting a Mcloyalty card, but breakfast for me is about a muffin, tea or maybe a yogurt. Noodles, rice and cabbage or other vegetables are not what I want first thing in the morning and it was the only place I could find within a 15 minute walk…Never say never…

Yuantong Temple Detail, Kunming, China

Yuantong Temple Detail, Kunming, China

I enjoyed Kunming. People are friendly and every now and then someone would be smiling at me or saying hello. It is a clean city and you can walk everywhere in the centre, and if you don’t want to, the taxis are the cheapest I have ever encountered. The only thing to remember is to have the name of the destination written in Chinese. A bus fare is 1 or 2 pence depending on whether it is a bus with aircon or not…

Green Lake was busy on a Sunday, every few metres someone was singing, playing and instrument or dancing to music. Ladies were dressed in their costumes and there was a definite air of festivity and celebration in the air. Apparently it is like that every day.

Green Lake, Kunming, China

Green Lake, Kunming, China

Over the last few months I have seen so many temples that I did not think I would ever find a temple that would impress me again and yet Yuantong Temple did just that. The temple has a perfect setting, as you step in via simple gardens you come upon the main temple area, full of vibrant blues, some red lanterns and a pond where you can see turtles swimming. I went to investigate the origin of gongs, chimes and singing and came across a room full of wrinkly, impossibly old women in robes chanting and praying. I was so moved, it brought tears to my eyes.

Yuantong Temple, Kunming, China

Yuantong Temple, Kunming, China

I do know I am in China by the bathrooms. There is a nasty lingering smell that emanates from all of them here. And yes, I am getting better at the squat toilets…small victories. On road trips dehydration is my friend…Restaurants have a few buckets dotted around where the dirty dishes and the leftover food get dumped. Not very nice to look at while you are dining but presumably that is how they pile them up for the washing service that collects and delivers them next day washed and wrapped in plastic ready for the table. One evening I turned the TV on and there was the equivalent of X factor. I listened for a while but to be honest, the blues sung in Chinese is not quite the same. All in all, an excellent way to start my visit.

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