Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kunming: Spring City

The plane landed smoothly at the Kunming International Airport. I quickly rushed to get out of the terminal to catch a taxi to my home in Kunming, the Cloudland International Youth Hostel. Kunming was a developing Chinese city. It wasn't like Shanghai or Guangzhou, but you could see it was experiencing a boom.


Construction was everywhere. Roads and flyovers were being built. Kunming is also known as the Spring City, because of its eternal spring like weather. And what a welcoming change of wind, after a chilly stay in Guilin. The taxis here looked weird, as the driver had a cage that separated him from the passenger side. I witnessed a sunset when I was headed to the hostel, something that I haven't seen in 3 days.


I arrived at the Cloudland Hostel at 6PM, again, tired. Fortunately, the hostel looked excellent and comfortable. It was a huge hostel, probably the biggest I have stayed in Asia. The hostel was 4 floors high, had a huge common area, a courtyard, and even a sun deck.



There were graffiti on the wall, made by travelers all over the world, who gave the hostel character. I checked-in, when TJ, the American I was with in the Li River cruise arrived. He was also in the same room that I was, so we sort of became buddies.


Kunming looked laid back, and the people were friendly. I walked the next day around Kunming and discovered these robotic looking policemen statues which were information kiosks found at the major intersections. It spoke Chinese, so I really didn't know its purpose.


I was off to Shilin Stone Forest, and the hostel instructed me to take a public bus to the train station, where a bus to Shilin could be taken. I also got the advice from a German girl who I drank with the night before. She told me the places I should see in Kunming and the surroundings. I decided to go to Shilin based on her recommendation.


So, I found myself in the train station, looking for a bus station to the left of the terminal. I matched the word Shilin written by the receptionist in my hostel to the sign marked on a bus. I mentioned Shilin, and the guy by the bus nodded. We exchanged more sign language to pay for a ticket. I boarded the bus after buying lunch to go at Dico's, a popular fast food chain in Kunming. Then, I was off to Shilin for the afternoon to spend.

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