Kunming: Calm, Cool, and Collected

Trip Start Jul 28, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Yun Da Bing Guan

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Driving through Kunming in a taxi from the airport, I noticed a lot of people jaywalking all over the streets. A group of three local women in mini-skirts walked unexpectedly in front of our cab, and I remarked to the driver that the people of Kunming were very relaxed. He replied nonchalantly, "Yes, the people of Kunming should wear more clothes." The jaywalking didn't really bother him.

Kunming is calm, cool, and collected. The weather is mild and comfortable. The people here are laid back and in no rush. There is no police presence. In contrast to many other large Chinese cities, Kunming is not crowded, loud, chaotic, or overly polluted. Instead of the bicycles of Beijing or the loud, motor scooters of Taipei, the locals here cruise around on silent, electric scooters. Buildings and streets are well-maintained. There are lots of nicely-groomed gardens and colorful flowers and trees around, including palms and bamboo.

Kunming is not overtly touristy. There is a trendy western presence here that blends in well with a trendy Chinese presence. There is no Starbucks. Around the university, students and backpackers sit outside in locally-owned cafes and savor coffee grown in the surrounding Yunnan province. But not before 9am, when the shops and restaurants first open, and not after 10pm when the city goes to bed. 

Kunming has nothing to prove and no chip on its shoulder. It's just a cool city in China that welcomes, but does not overwhelm, its visitors. I am here for work, checking out our new study abroad program at Yunnan University. It has been an absolute pleasure to be here.
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Inge Bose on

This is priceless Ingrid. Sounds like a really nice place, not so crowded and
not polluted. Relaxed and the "NO POOP on Toilet Paper" is just too much.
Is that the hole in the floor kind of toilet or is that a shower - can't make it out.
Keep tumbelweeeding....................

Roland on

I like your comment about the city having nothing to prove nor a chip on it's shoulder. My kind of city but I think I would have a problem with the "cross the Bridge" rice noodles :) Enjoy your visit.

Regine on

Is this a new combination of shower and toilet. I am trying to read the fine print on hte poster but cannot make it out. Raw eggs do not look too good - here in the States we would be worried about salmonella poisoning. Stay healthy. Kunming is mentioned in Amy Tan's book - the Kitchen Gods Wife. I did not picture it that way, but then the story took place in the 1940's.

Inge Bose/Perreault on

Re.Chicken Feet anyone.
I once unknowingly going with a Chinese friend into a restaurant in N.J. batter-dipped deep-fried chicken feet. When I saw the claws I realized what I was nibbling on (not that it was tasty anyhow) but I wanted to throw-up immediately.
"This good for you - good for bones, make strong bones and much vitamins too" - Sorry but chicken feet are NOT my thing, no matter how prepared. It's like eating bones and you know what chicken feet walk in - chicken poop........

Paul Davies on

Wow! Used to be we'd only get a lousy postcard, arriving weeks after the person was already back home. Interesting narrative, wonderful images, Ingrid.

Gerhard on

Schön wieder von deinen Reisen zu lesen. Sieht alles sehr ruhig und sauber aus auf den Bildern. Die Toilette ist doch etwas erschreckend :)

Regine on

I think you will have to demonstrate the use of this place when you get back. There are many questions on our minds with varying explanations of how to.
Most of all, we all enjoy your trip and have no trouble following you.

radsolv on

How long will you be in Kunming. I was there for almost a week including New Year's Eve 2008. What a lovely city. Stayed at "The Hump" hostel. Ate crossing the bridge noodles: at a restaurant that actyually had a small bridge to cross. Your commenters seem to miss your clear point that you dump the raw eggs, chicken etc into a bowl of boiling broth which had not yet arrived. Very good. Love Chinese food. In fact love China and the Chinese people. Not a single bad experience intwo months there.

Will you have time to get North to Lijiang then up further to hike the high trail along Tiger Leaping Gorge? I'm sure you are well aware of it. We did it on a mild sunny day in early January in T shirts and shorts. I have no photos since I had lost my camera shortly before.

Exactly who you work for is not clear. I first discovered your TP blogs when you started your six week Chinese only immersion course a few years ago and not only have been a fan since but went back and read all your earlier blogs. Fascinating lady. All the best.

Art Romagnoli radsolv@yahoo.com

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