Uncategorized

Thu 26 Mar 2015

Green Lake Park in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.

Green Lake Park in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.

Yesterday I crossed the border into China (中国; pinyin Zhōngguó, or “Middle Country”). I first took a bus from Sapa to Lao Cai, Vietnam, then took a taxi to the border. I exited the Vietnam immigration checkpoint and crossed a short bridge on foot into China.

Just as I arrived on the other side of the bridge a large Chinese tour group returning from Vietnam collectively got into the immigration line to enter China. Thankfully the line moved quickly, and anyway I realized that I would have to get used to large groups of Chinese people! For some reason they seemed to be everywhere in China.

Hekou is the Chinese border town across from Lao Cai, Vietnam. After a few tries I found an ATM that would work with my card and I withdrew some Yuan. Next I stopped at a few mobile phone stores to inquire about a SIM card. Nobody spoke a word of English except for “SIM Card” so they understood what I wanted but indicated that they could not sell me a SIM card unless I had a Chinese ID. I found a taxi and went to the Hekou North train station where I caught a train for Kunming (昆明), the capital of Yunnan.

Public domain map of China, with Yunnan province highlighted in red.

Public domain map of China, with Yunnan province highlighted in red. Bordering Yunnan, from left to right, are Burma, Laos and Vietnam.

Hungry on the train, I bought some rice crackers. Thank heavens for the English ingredients on the package! Now I know exactly what I ate.

Hungry on the train, I bought some rice crackers. Thank heavens for the English explanation on the package! Now I know exactly what I ate.

Unlike humans, the Earth does not acknowledge any political borders so the topography did not change as I crossed into China. Yunnan, like northern Vietnam, is located in the remote foothills of the Himalayas. Kunming is reputed for its temperate climate year round, a benefit of its elevation. I arrived in Kunming near midnight, checked into my hotel and went to bed, tired from a long day of travel.

Kunming.

Kunming.

Arriving in Kunming, I was not surprised to see a large number of construction cranes throughout the city, consistent with China’s unprecedented ongoing urbanization. With a population of over three million, it is a relatively large city, but I did not find it as crowded, polluted or dirty as many similarly sized cities I had visited in my travels. On the contrary, at least in the central area, I found an orderly, modern city full of gleaming new buildings, clean streets and pretty gardens. (The peripheral areas were not so pleasing, due to the massive construction projects).

Entrance to Green Lake Park, Kunming.

Entrance to Green Lake Park, Kunming.

Green Lake Park, Kunming.

Green Lake Park, Kunming.

Today I explored Green Lake Park, the area adjacent to my hotel. The little lake had walkways leading from the shore to a few tiny islands that had souvenir shops, cafes and well manicured gardens. In the evening I tried to find a vegetarian restaurant affiliated with a nearby Buddhist temple but at the listed address there was a Japanese grocery store but no restaurant. 

This is some serious garlic bread! Upland Hostel Bar, Kunming.

This is some serious garlic bread! Upland Hostel Bar, Kunming.

The old and the new, Kunming. Yes, that is a Starbucks on the left.

The old and the new, Kunming. Yes, that is a Starbucks on the left.

Advertisements
Standard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s