The first time I visited Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in southwest China, it hardly made an impression on me because I was only there overnight with the APLP team and we were busy with our presentations on our mini-field studies. We also had stayed at a hotel in the modern part of the city, which was not so interesting to walk around. I revisited Kunming in 2013 and met up with a couple of my APLP friends from China, who had not joined the 2012 visit as they had naturally chosen the NYC/ DC field study option. This time though it was a lovely experience as the accommodation and places to visit were suggested by my friends. These are my special six experiences and recommendations for the traveler to this city.
1.Stay at the Lost Garden Guesthouse
We stayed at the Lost Garden guesthouse near Green Lake. It was a lovely guesthouse, which had a restaurant serving delicious food.
2. Walk around Green Lake
With our proximity to a lovely lake and park, Duan and I spent a lot of time exploring different parts of the park in the early morning hours, while Yuan ran her daily 10km morning run around the lake. The park established in the 17th century has lots of lovely places to discover.
3. Day trip to Xishan Forest Park (Kunming West Hill)
This was a special trip recommended by Duan so the two of us took the cab to the base of the hill and then took the cable and then the chair up the hill.
We walked around the trail leading to the Dragon’s gate, where every visitor stopped to touch the gate. The adjacent Datiange (Mansion of Heaven) is one of the most visited of the Longmen grottoes along the hillside. This grotto has relief carvings on its wall of Kui Xing. According to mythology, Kui Xing was a highly intelligent human being whose services the Emperor refused as he was repulsed by his appearance. When Kui Xing threw himself off the cliff, a dragon saved him and because of that, he became the God of imperial examinations and official documents.
4. Visit Guandu old town
Guandu old town is a short drive from Kunming so we decided to explore the old town. What I remember most from exploring the town is the rose flower cake bakery that we came across. Rather the smell of the pastries being baked drew us and we indulged ourselves in this Yunnan specialty snack. Of course, we got some boxes for home.
5. Drive to Fuxian lake for lunch
A colleague of Yuan invited the three of us for a drive to Fuxian lake, the deepest fresh water lake in Yunnan province, for lunch. She explained that this area was famous for its fish and fish based meals, among the locals. So, we had the local specialty fish soup for lunch.
6.Try out one of the group exercises in parks
Whichever park I visited in China, I always saw groups of people going through various exercise routines. Green Lake was no exception. While I was hesitant to join a group without having talked to the people beforehand, my friend didn’t hesitate and joined in the activity.
Have you visited Kunming? Which of these experiences have you tried or would like to try out?