A Trip Down South

A Trip Down South

While my boyfriends Mum and Dad were in China, we decided we would take a small 5 day trip to Kunming. Kunming is just over an hours flight south from Chengdu, in Yunnan Province. We have heard good things about the city: it’s weather is much better than in Chengdu, there are quite a lot of expats living there, it’s cheaper, plus it’s a gateway to explore south east Asia.

Kunming is remarkably smaller than Chengdu, with about half the amount of people in Chengdu which has around 14 million. Not the most smallest of cities!

From the cities I’ve been to in China, I was surprised at how different Chengdu is to many others. The ones I’ve been to are in the east, and  it certainly shows how the east of China has dramatically become more ‘Westernised’, to me anyway, it seems to have lost some of it’s traditional culture.

Thankfully, much of the traditional ways of life are still seen in the West, so Chengdu and Kunming are definitely cities to visit if you want to experience a more ‘Chinese’ way of life.

Kunming very much feels like Chengdu… they both have sort of a ‘rustic’ feel. When we arrived the weather was glorious! Blue sky and it was quite hot! On our first day we decided to visit the Green Lake. We strolled around the lake and it’s surrounding area; watching people singing and dancing.




The next day, the weather wasn’t very good. We knew from the weather forecast that rain was due, so we were definitely prepared! Although it was freezing!

We got a bus to a beautiful old temple called Yuantong Temple. Apparently it’s one of the most famous Temples in Kunming. Although the weather wasn’t the best, we still took some really nice pictures.

After this, we walked to an area near a University which has loads of stalls selling different food; I tried these spicy/sweet fried potatoes. They were really nice! Instead of putting lots of spice on them, they only put a little spice but they also add some sesame oil to them.

After that, we headed downtown and had a look in the shops and just had a nosey. The weather was becoming worse so we decided to head back to our hostel.

On Wednesday, we took a train around 6/7 hours to a place called Dali Ancient City. 大理. Dali is an old ancient city and it is a very popular place to visit for Chinese people. It was really nice, although one thing that annoyed us was that in the streets there were constant e-bikes beeping their horns and trying to swerve between the crowds of people. It was really frustrating. They should really ban e-bikes in the main area of the town. The constant beeping ruined the atmosphere a little for us.

If you plan on walking, I would recommend 2 days in the Dali Ancient City. However if you want to rent a bike, I would say one day would be fine to explore the area. We decided to walk, and quickly realised how big the area was! So I would suggest renting a bike or an e-bike.

Walking around the area, we stumbled across a beautiful small park. I have no idea what the name is, but it was really nice.

After our two days in Dali, we got another train back to Kunming. We could have taken a flight from Kunming to Dali, but it was too expensive, so it was the train for us!

We stayed one more night in Kunming and then caught our short flight back to smoggy Chengdu.

I really enjoyed Kunming, I’d I like to go back again and maybe even think about living there one day!

The two hostels in which we stayed at are:

Kunming: Kunming Cloudland International Hostel

Pros: Really friendly staff, atmosphere was nice, bedrooms were fine.

Cons: Location wasn’t at the heart of Kunming, so had to take buses to get to any place.

Dali: Dali Five Elements Hostel

Pros: Located just 5 minutes from Dali Ancient City.

Cons: Staff weren’t very friendly (didn’t smile once at us). No atmosphere in the hostel whatsoever. I didn’t like our room; the bedroom and bathroom were far too big and just had a weird feeling about it. Also, the shower pressure is literally non-existent. They gave us a bedroom with 3 beds but we only needed 2 so that’s why it felt big. I wouldn’t stay there again.



Our idea of moving

As much as I love the city of Chengdu, I think.. finally, we have come to the conclusion that we need to move.

After coming back from Ireland, the cold here has just been driving us mad. Even tidying the house is actually a struggle, with our crappy air con, the apartment is still freezing, meaning all we want to do is sit huddled beside our ‘fires’.

The pollution is also another major factor. I’ve heard, 7,500 people in China die from cancer…. each day! With lung cancer as one of the most common cancers. . . what a surprise.

I suppose at this stage, I’ve become numb about the whole pollution issue. Yes it’s here, I see it everyday in the sky, but… thats Chengdu. And I go about my business. I suppose when I hear it from people back home talking about the air quality in China that I realise ‘yeah, it actually is a problem’.

Recently, every Sunday there seems to be a respite from the pollution…. and the sun shines bright with no clouds to be seen. I love Chengdu when the weather is good. If the weather was sunny, I would definitely stay here longer. I’ve been here nearly two and a half years so this city has become ‘home’ in a way.

I’m familiar with the roads and locations (of most places), I enjoy riding on the e-bike as it’s so convenient. I like our complex; not too big or small. We are within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Uni is super handy to get to, and I just walk 10 minutes to get the bus to work. Plus, the new subway line is hopefully going to open in the summer, about a 15 minute walk away from us.

I’m comfortable here, so when I think of us moving, and having to start from scratch….. it definitely makes me nervous and anxious.

This time next year we hope to move to another city in China, so by then we’ll have two years of learning Mandarin which I’m sure should help us in moving just that bit easier.

One city that we are seriously considering is Xiamen. This is in the south east of China, opposite the island of Taiwan. The weather is much better I hear. For me, Xiamen looks ‘tropical’…. whereas Chengdu is more ‘rustic’. We were possibly thinking of Kunming, but it seems like the city’s weather is also becoming more prone to smog.

Anyway, we do have another year to decide.

I’ll try not to panic just yet!