Yunnan Province: Kunming and Dali

15 Jan

Map of Yunnan Province

So, I actually wrote this post half a year ago but never had the time/energy to insert the pix and post. These days we are thinking a lot about Yunnan Province because we want to move there, either after completing the coursework for my PhD (if I get accepted into one) or for the fall. However, as always happens, when you decide something, God has a way to throwing you a lot of curve balls. Ours come in the form of having a lot of new opportunities happening for us here in Nanjing, such as Peiman’s workshop and guitar work and contacts/possible buyers and me, quite a good job, opportunities for service and also contacts, such as finding a migrant children’s centre right in our neighbourhood where I would like to volunteer and/or get friends, etc. involved in volunteering at. So, stay (and endure more painful winters, a very dark and cold apartment, being underpaid) or go?!

Now, for the post of our summer trip to Yunnan:

Lining up at the airport with all our gear.

Since we were not able to get train tickets for the relatively short trip from Nanning to Kunming (more on this topic on my train tickets post which I will hopefully post soon), we had to fly to Kunming.

We spent close to two weeks in Yunnan Province, first in the capital, Kunming, then in the town of Dali and then again in Kunming. Arriving in Kunming was a bit of a weather shock as the weather was cool. That is because this part of Yunnan is very high above sea level, Kunming maybe 1700 m and Dali 1900. Mornings are always cool and then it warms up. In Kunming, it felt cool and comfortable and we enjoyed the respite from the heat.

Daguanlou Park

We found Kunming to be clean, with many green spaces and parks and very pleasant. Unfortunately Roya had a fever when we arrived so we didn’t see too much during our first visit although the second day we went to Green Lake and then to Daguanlou Park. By chance we also found a great store for kids’ running shoes so we bought both children badly needed footware, which came in very handy in Dali where it was at times quite cold and wet and we also did two days of hiking.

Lotus view in Daguanlou ParkKids sitting on a metal statue at the park.

Kids sitting on a metal statue at the park.

Our crowded compartment.

On the way to Dali on the train, we wanted to be comfortable so we got seats for all of us (kids half price) but ended up not in “seats” but in a compartment with quite uncomfortable seating. For one thing, the top bunk (for night sleeping I guess) was too low so Peiman could not sit up straight. However, when he went on the bunk to lie down to be more comfortable, the conductor came by to tell him he couldn’t do that because he had not paid for that bunk.

Mom laughing at Peiman’s funny face as he shows how he can’t sit up straight in compartment.

He tried it a few more times but each time was told to go down. Later on, a few girls came by who had no seats (in China, if seats are sold out, you can buy a standing ticket for the SAME PRICE which is crazy) and asked to sit across from us. Since the family seated there also had the rest of their family in another compartment and some of them spent more time there than here, they told the girls they could sit there. We enjoyed talking to the girls (two about to start university and one thirteen year old) and the kids played with them.

Three girls from Chuxiong who were visiting family in Lijiang.

At the beginning of our historical village visit.

Dali was a pleasant and peaceful place surrounded by beautiful unspoilt nature. Most of our stay was overcast with some showers and one day especially was raining all day and cold (maybe 15 degrees). That day we went to see a village by the lake and ended up walking for far too long and through large muddy areas between fields.

Peaceful garden in the middle of nowhere.

By the end everyone was exhausted and cold. We found a nice peaceful garden but then couldn’t find any transport back to the highway.

Very interesting vegetation in the garden – yellow bamboo trunks and a cool yellow cactus.

Peiman standing by the deserted lakefront.

Thinking that we could find more life and transportation by the lake (Erhai Lake, a large lake spanning many villages and also Dali), we walked all the way there only to find nothing but an ugly landscape. That left us with no other choice but to walk ALL THE WAY BACK toward the highway.

On buggy on the way back to highway.

Almost all the way back, we finally found some horse-drawn buggies, one of which took us to the highway to catch our bus back to town. (That was the last time that we went to a “historical village” with the kids since after that whenever we said those words they associated it with this place and insisted they never wanted to go to a “historical village” ever again!)

Getting a tour of Dali with our friends’ two youngest kids.

Unfortunately that day we also had to go return our β€œstanding” train tickets as we had decided not to go to Lijiang since we didn’t want to move the kids so often and decided to just stay longer in Dali and then in Kunming. After buying our bus tickets back to Kunming for several days later we ate a quick dinner and went to see our new friends in Dali.

Roya and their youngest boy were the same age and really had fun together. Here they are walking near the Dali Erhai lakefront (much nicer than the one by the village!)

These friends are an amazing family that live in the old city and have been there for eleven years. The wife is from Chile and the husband Iranian. They have six children ranging in age from seven to mid-twenties. Their two youngest kids and our kids had a great time playing together while Peiman had much to discuss with the husband about everything from work to wood to agriculture to how to market and sell the families’ smoothies, feta cheese, jam and other products they produce.

Group massage πŸ™‚

I also enjoyed speaking with the mother, who homeschools/ed all her children while running their household which also includes her parents in law – a busy lady indeed! Another blessing was being able to borrow some warmer clothes from the family while we stayed, which really came in handy. Another day, we also met visitors from England, Kunming and Macau and had a really nice lunch with everyone!

Kids playing dress-up marching band.

Marching dress up band version 2 (they came down at least 5 or 6 times in different dresses and with different instruments.)

Family picture with Milad as the “monkey king”

Our favourite sightseeing activity in Dali was hiking the large mountain range, Cangshan, on two different days. The best thing was that you could take a chairlift on one side or gondola on the other most of the way up and then hike on a fairly level stone path to various valleys and small waterfalls, weaving in and out of the different mountains. The walking was not demanding but it did go through beautiful scenery so that the second time we were able to cross most of the range in several hours. The kids had fun picking little weeds/plants and planning their future! Somehow they got into talking about where and how they wanted to live when they grew up and had hours of fun talking about it. Milad started it. He wanted to live in Kunming (later changed to Malaysia), with his wife, two kids (older daughter and younger son) and me and Peiman. He first said we would be on the first floor and they on the second but when I asked he said we could be on the second πŸ™‚ He also planned to cook with Peiman, have a workshop with him and work on the computer. Roya said she didn’t want to marry so she could do what she wanted (interesting). She also was scared to give birth so she planned to adopt three kids. At first she said she would live on a mountain but when I asked her how she would live there, she changed to living on Vancouver Island, and planned that we would all visit her every summer.

Milad later decided to teach ABCs as a job and Roya didn’t talk about work but from the past I knew she wanted to be a dance and math teacher. The kids often like playing teacher as teachers play an important role in their lives. Another funny thing on this hike was the large amount of large ladybugs on the chairlift. As you went up, they would just fly up and land on you. It was quite amusing trying to capture them on photos.

Resting with grandma πŸ™‚

Beautiful waterfall on the mountain in Dali.

Milad on the chairlift with a ladybug on his hat.

Milad posing with a girl dressed in traditional Dai Minority clothes in Dali.

Getting up close and personal with a llama ;)Back in Kunming, we spent one day going to a new “safari” zoo, a huge place out of Kunming many parts of which had animals roaming freely. It was quite a nice change from the typical zoo and we enjoyed getting up and close to some of the animals.

A beautiful bird in one of the bird cages.

View from gondola over Dianchi Lake and interesting architecture.

We also went on the local mountain, Xishan. It was really beautiful. We went part way up by gondola over the large Dian Chi Lake and then up over the cliff face. Then we hiked around, seeing various pavilions and even a mini stone forest (for free unlike the overpriced one south of Kunming that we didn’t go to).

View of Dianchi Lake and Xishan Mtn. from gondola.

In the end we had to go back before the gondolas stopped running but determined to see the summit, I went up the last climb alone in about 10 exhausting minutes. The view and sense of accomplishment was worth it and then we went back down.

Cliff face of mtn.

We also had a nice time with a special friend from Russia, who I had met in Hong Kong the previous family reunion. She took us to the bird and flower market and also to visit another friend. I really enjoyed talking to her and discussing the work possibilities for myself if we were to move to Kunming which we will now begin actively planning. Although Kunming, like all other big cities in China, is polluted, it is much better than Nanjing and the weather is also much more pleasant. Especially nice are the mild winters and the lack of humidity and mold which plagues us every summer in Nanjing.

At one of the viewpoints on the mountain.

Otherwise the city has many nice areas that would be nice to live in, seemingly more jobs than I previously thought, and just a nice feeling we like. It was good to visit and find out how much we would like to move there.


8 Responses to “Yunnan Province: Kunming and Dali”

  1. Leah January 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    So nice to see you guys, even if it is “you” from the summer. πŸ™‚ I hope you’re all doing well! Post more soon – we think of you often.

    • klarasadventures January 16, 2012 at 2:37 am #

      Thanks Leah πŸ™‚ It is always nice to read your sweet comments! Just imagine me a little older and with longer hair (just permed it again too :)) I will try to post a little more until we leave town on the 25th. As for the Thailand posts, that will probably happen this summer haha the turn around time for my blog seems to be half a year!

  2. Heline January 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    Wow, what an adventure you and your family have! Nice to see that all of you are enjoying life and doing well!

    Would love to visit you in China! Which city do you reside in now? My husband and I travel to Shanghai from time to time.

    • klarasadventures January 16, 2012 at 2:34 am #

      Hey Heline, nice to hear from you! We are in Nanjing (at least until July) so a quick trip from Shanghai πŸ™‚ Would love to have you visit us! What are you up to these days?!

      • Heline January 16, 2012 at 2:49 am #

        Hi!! My hubby and I work and live in Singapore now. So if you ever have time, do come for a visit!

      • klarasadventures January 16, 2012 at 3:18 am #

        Cool! Been wanting to visit Singapore sometime. Not sure when that would be but when we do will be sure to ring you up! What are you doing there, job wise I mean?

      • Heline January 16, 2012 at 3:33 am #

        Great, would be good to see you after all these years!

        Work-wise, I am with Standard Chartered Bank as Head of Talent Acquisition, Private Bank East (North & South East Asia).

  3. Mud Spice March 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    So beautiful there! I love those photos!

    Way to go, Milad, you can live in Malaysia with my parents when you when you grow up!

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