Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Four Days in Kunming - 705 Days into our Adventure! Loads of Photos.

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Today marks our one year international anniversary.  After 11 months on the road touring the United States we departed from LAX for Iceland.  We have been nomads now for 705 days!  Sometimes it still seems like a dream.

Our time in Kunming has been well-spent.  Like all the other big Chinese cities, this one is a sprawling myriad of skyscrapers and apartment complexes.  Some of the apartment buildings are 50+ stories tall.  Unlike Nanning, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong, this city has a relatively new metro new that four of its completed lines don't even show up on Google maps.  Major roads are being dug up and there is infrastructure projects joining on everywhere.

Our hotel is has turned out to be a nice asset.  After getting past the smoke smell, our room is confortable and the hotel location is perfect for our sightseeing plans.  The Green Land Hotel is a Chinese major chain and although it is a bit older, the service has been great.  The staff speak about as much English as we speak Chinese, but little by little we've been able to communicate and that have been more than accommodating.

Our first day was a shopping day.  We spent quite a bit of time wandering the neighborhood and located a nearby Walmart.  Uncle Walton is popular in China and it has many locations.  The Walmart stores here are primarily large grocery stores but they do have a small department of household items.  Bobbie's backpack proved more than the luggage trolled we bought in Nanning could handle.  Here we were able to find a more sturdy version.  In addition we picked up a few snacks and some breakfast cereals and snacks.  We are already growing tired of the traditional Chinese breakfasts which honestly look like the lunches and dinners.  A good bowl of oatmeal with some fresh fruit in the morning is a nice comfort food option.

We chose a few close by locations for our second day out.  We got a lazy start  With the Flower and Bird Market as our destination we headed out onto the streets.  Once again we saw no westerners except us.  It's truly is a surprise that there are so few foreign tourists where we have been so far.  That will change soon but for the time being we are getting a lot of stares and many requests for photos with the locals.  They are fascinated by my facial hair and our size.

We wandered off the main street and into a few alleyways where we found a nice local restaurant.  We got a bit carried away by the choices and this is what we ordered.  The whole spread including drinks ran about $14 USD and it was very tasty!

The Flower and Bird Market is small and most of the flowers were cactus and other succulents.  There were no birds to be found but plenty of aquarium fish.

 The area was nicely laid out with loads of art shops, wood carvers and more jewelry stores than we could count selling gold, silver, and lots of jade.
 The Bird Jewelryu World was a multi-level mall of fish acquariums on the first floors and then five more floors of jewelry shops.
 This was a stylized elephant guarding the entrance to the mall.
 We wandered for several hours through a maze of pedestrian shopping streets before calling it a day.
Our next destination was the Yunnan Nationalities Park.  This is a huge area on the shores of Daichi Lake.  It is a cultural park with depictions of over 70 different ethnic villages.  There are musical and dance exhibits and the staff were dressed in local costumes throughout.  It was a day full of lovely cultural experiences.  We were greeted at the main gate with a sign we have now seen all over Kunming reminding us to be "Civilized Tourists!"

 A really cool tree house.

BBQ for lunch.

Loads of firewood and there were many fires burning in the homes and shops.
Another amazing hand embroidered piece.  This one almost made into a mailing home.

The Mai ethnicity love their water buffalo.

The dancers were very animated and musical.  The fellas love their long hair tossing it from side to side as they moved.

Huge group of musicians.  It was such a hot afternoon.  I felt sorry for them sitting in the bright sun.

A bit of Mongolia.

A mosque.

AWESOME masks from Chinese opera.  Sadly none for

The Bai village.

Lastly there was a great representation of the local Tibetan culture.

Dang, we walked a lot today.

Our final day visiting Kunming was devoted to the Green Hill area and the Xishan Forest Scenic Area.  We took the local subway to the far side of Daichi Lake.  We were surprised at how quiet it was underground.

 Once at the park we opted to hike up the main road to the Dragon Gate entrance.  It was a six miles hike to the top of the mountain, all up hill and we weren't the only ones.
 All along the way were monuments and temples.

Magnificent gate guards.

Great roof ornaments.

Magnificent views of the city.

 At the entrance to Longmon Mountain Scenic area we began our 1500 step climb up the side of the red granite cliff.  The steps are cut into the side of the mountain and often the path was only wide enough for one person at a time...and it was crowded.  This is a huge local Chinese tourist spot.

 Here we are well over 3,000 feet above the lake and it is straight down.

 We got photo-bombed during our picture.

"Dragon Gate" is a simple shrine at the top of the climb.  It is said that if one reaches it they have gained enlightenment.  So we were enlightened, hot, sweaty, thirsty and tired.

 The trip down was by chair lift.

Once again the views were amazing.
And just in case you thought I was exaggerating about the climb, here's proof.  And guess who made it to the top it was not Bobbie!

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