On 21 September 2019, I arrived at Kunming Changshui International Airport at about 2am. I traveled with a friend and spent our night napping in an airport bistro. Our travel to Kunming is to trek the Tiger Leaping Gorge.
In the morning, we boarded a train to the city center. Here are notes from my travel notebook:
21 Sept 2019
The Kunming airport has a subway.
To get to Kunming Railway Station from the airport, one has to get on a Line 6 train and stop at East Coach Station. Get on a Line 3 train to Dongfeng Station, then board Line 2 train to Kunming Railway Station.
There are basically two Kunming railway stations – one is for subway line, the second is for trains serving far away regions.
The latter is where you go to take a sleeper train. It’s about a 10-minute walk down the streets, passing tunnel and back alley.
So, we arrive in Kunming city, tired and greeted by a light drizzle. I have not had enough sleep. It is 14 degree Celcius and like Taipei, I underestimate Kunming’s weather. But, I have brought along a sports jacket and a raincoat to keep me warm.
Today, we are to take a sleeper train to Lijiang at 9pm. To kill time, we tour the city and walk over an hour from the railway station to Green Lake, a park dedicated to the old folks I would say.
To reach Green Lake Park, we walk through shopping streets and pass high-end boutique stores.
These shopping streets located close to the park are filled with youngsters. Such a big contrast and interesting to observe the shift from the younger to the older generation.
Green Lake, as I see it, is where senior citizens gather in groups. They hang out, bring their own speaker, bring their meals, and share their food. By the time we get to the park, the elderly people are dancing.
It appears these old folks have their own circle of friends. One group will blast their music after the other, perhaps a way to get more crowd joining them dancing. It’s like watching a dance battle. Their styles of dance are traditional, waltz, and modern.
I read between October and March, the Siberian seagulls will migrate to the mild climate of Yunan. Many travel posts mention Green Lake Park as being the best place to watch seagulls.
Although it is not a seagull season during our visit, the tranquil scenery at Green Lake is soothing nonetheless. From the quiet food stalls to the empty tea houses, tree-lined walks, willow trees, and a lotus filled lake.
At noon, we walk 20 minutes to the Museum of Ethnology. According to Google Map, the museum is located within Yunan University (which is also listed as one of Kunming city’s main attractions).
We arrive at the university only to find the museum building abandoned. It has then got me thinking, what is so beautiful about this university? I wonder.
With little energy left, I am no longer feeling thrilled to explore the city. At this juncture, our sightseeing becomes aimless walking through the city and Kunming becomes less attractive.
We have decided to return to Green Lake Park and rest for a while. The gush of wind sends shivers down my spine.
The same elderly people are still dancing. But at a certain time, they too are replaced by a group of musicians, who seem to be playing songs of the Great Depression.
As much as I enjoy watching and listening, I get sleepy, bored, and hungry. So, we leave the park to look for food.
Earlier during the day, we have met an Australian couple, who said the Tiger Leaping Gorge trail is closed due to bad weather. “Head to Shangrila for options,” they suggested.
3.18pm note – Sitting at a coffee shop, feeling sleepy. Walking back to the railway station will take another one-hour walk. A good exercise for tomorrow’s hike.
7.20pm note – Currently at Kunming Railway Station, waiting for our sleeper train to Lijiang. Shock is when you see a woman squatting in a cubical toilet with the door wide open, doing her own business.
Only in China, without a care in the world.