Ni Hao, China!

Ni Hao, China! More specifically, Kunming, the City of Eternal Spring. The weather was as chilly as the time i was in Melbourne. It was 25 Degrees Celsius and i am loving it.Located at an altitude of 1900m above sea level, Kunming is the capital of and largest city in Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Kunming is also called the Spring City due to its weather. Soon it will be the hub and terminus for the Pan Asia High Speed Network using high speed trains to connect China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia & Singapore. 

Enough talking....I met up with another solo traveler from Malaysia, Najib, which is also a long time amazing friend of mine. We then traveled across China for the rest of our trip which turns out amazing as well and i will the rest of the story soon....
It was a struggle finding transport directly to our hostel (which we didn't book yet) and we kept going back and forth at the entrance of the airport to bargain a good price from the drivers. Result? 150 Yuan per trip. Half an hour later, we found ourselves on a bus that cost 25 Yuan. I searched up information on the internet and discovered that we could take bus No 1 which will terminate at West Inn. The journey was about 45 minutes and once we reached the last stop, we flagged a cab to our hostel. We were somewhat relief that we are back on track and on our way to Kunming Upland International Youth Hostel to settle down for the day. As we have a night train scheduled, we only kept our backpacks in the hostel and paid 10 Yuan to use the shower. After a nice hot shower, we are all geared up to explore a little bit of what Kunming has to offer.

5 minutes walk away from the hostel, we entered the entrance of the famous Cui Hu Lake.It is one of the most beautiful park in Kunming situated almost in the city center facing Yunnan University. This lake used to be a part of Dianchi Lake.  Pearl, Jade, Gem or Eye of Kunming are a few of the names given to the Green Lake Park / Cui Hu Lake in Kunming. Cui Hu (翠湖) as it is called in Chinese, consists of a group of 4 small ponds linked by bridges in the traditional Chinese style. In the early days, the lake was used as a water reservoir for the city.
The photo above is taken at the Bamboo Forest Islet (Zhu Lin Dao) in the northwest of the lake. If you find this photo somewhat similar to another place, yes - it does look almost the same like the famous Bamboo Grove Forest in Kyoto, Japan. I love it! 
 Beautiful vibrant flowers can be seen as i strolled along the park, i guess there is a reason it is called the city of eternal spring.
The days are long and the nights are short here. It gets completely dark only a few minutes short after 8pm. Its a good thing though, as i get to take advantage of this to explore and take more photos as much as the sunlight permits. I really enjoyed the stroll in this big park and loved inspecting the detailed designs of each building i saw. Entrance to this park is free so that is even better for my wallet. 

We exited out of the park and start hunting for food, halal food. Since we are Muslims, eating Halal food is a must and to taste Yunnan's muslim food would be a privilege for us. So we walked and we walked and we walked.......and took some interesting photos along the way.

Since we are at the topic of Muslims, of all of China's 56 Minority nationalities, the only qualified for such designation by religion alone, rather than language or ethnic identification, were the Hui, who are Muslims, but ethnically Han Chinese. Yunnan's Hui today make up around 700k people making them the 7th largest minority in the province. It was nice to read up a bit of the Hui's history being focused politically despite their religion of Islam and how the Mongols came to invade to destroy empire and continuously as years passed leading to a cultural revolution called the Panthay Rebellion & trying to strike a deal with the Yunnan Govt etc. 

At the end of this long walk, we had our dinner in a Muslim restaurant at a street on the photo above. We head back to our hostel and take a breather before we set out to Kunming Railway Station for our 11.40pm train to Dali. 
So here we are! This is Kunming Railway Station. And this exact train station makes me & Najib turn into a mini panic attack mode. We found out that there were 3 train stations in Kunming but our train pickup voucher does not state which station we were supposed to head to as even google seems to be giving unclear answers. Luckily, I suggested getting out of the hostel slightly earlier and flagged a cab down to the train station. We took a gamble and went straight to the Main Station - carefully looking at the navigation route on the phone. Thankfully, it was the correct one. 

The other 2 stations were either serving High Speed Rails & connecting to other provinces as well. 
The whole process from Security Screening, to picking up our train ticket & then check-in and waiting at the holding area takes about 1 hour - just like the process at the airport. Just for information, in March 2014, a terrorist attack occurs here where a large group of people came rushing in with long knives killing and injuring people.They were later identified as violent Uyghur separatist group. 

Back at the station, i found the pickup booth to collect the train ticket and then proceed to check in at wait at the waiting area. The situation at the waiting area is slightly alarming for me as i can see poop and pee on seats. Oh wells....

I had a long bumpy sleep all ready to explore the next ancient city of Dali. Bring it on, China! x

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