Yunnan Province – Kunming

Kunming (also known as Yunnan-Fu) is the capital and largest city of Yunnan Province and a prefecture-level city. Much of the information about Kunming on the Wikipedia website seems to have been translated (and not very well) from Chinese. What is clear, is that it grew in importance as a modern city during the Second Sino-Japanese War/World War Two, when its population was boosted by civilian refugees and military forces relocating from the east coast. Most of these were Han Chinese.
It was also the base for the famous American “Flying Tigers” during the war (hence the interesting rooftop decoration below).

Modern Kunming is ethnically very mixed, with official statistics as of 2006 as follows:
Han: 4,383,500, Yi: 400,200, Hui: 149,000, Bai: 73,200, Miao: 46,100,
Lisu: 17,700, Zhuang: 14,000, Dai: 13,200, Hani: 11,000, Naxi: 8,400
Manchu: 4,800, Buyei: 3,400, Mongol: 2,500, Lahu: 1,700, Tibetan: 1,500
Yao: 1,100, Jingpo: 1,100, Va: 1,000, Blang: 441, Primi: 421, Sui: 294
Achang: 263, Nu: 156, Jino: 135, Derung: 75.

Kunming is the largest flower exporting base in Asia, so it’s not all that surprising that the European country with the largest footprint in Kunming is the Netherlands (a Trade Office). As the capital of Yunnan Province, it is probably better known in the West for tea – particularly Pu-Erh tea, although there is also a popular local 黑茶 hēichá (lit. ‘black tea’ – a fermented tea, or “dark tea”, which is different from the English-language black tea that is called 红茶 hóngchá (lit. ‘red tea’) in Chinese). I mention this, because I like both of them, although hēichá is impossible to find in Europe (as far as I know), possibly because of confusion in the naming.

I only stayed in Kunming for a few days as the city centre was not very interesting, and pretty much like any modern Chinese city; even the old city wall had been torn down to make way for development. However, I did find a bus trip to the “Stone Forest” (石林; Shílín), which was very interesting (before it got too crowded).

City Centre

Here the main interest was the traffic, which I walked past on the way into town from the hotel. I recognised some of the vehicles, which had moved on a few hundred yards, on the way back out again, after I had had lunch in a food hall (cheap and fairly good, as these places usually are, since they are frequented by locals rather than tourists).

Daguan Park

On my second day in Kunming I took a bus southwest across town (it took ages) to an open space marked on the map, because it was an open space marked on the map, so not totally built-up, like everywhere else on the map. This turned out to be a very good idea, and I spent a few hours in winter sunshine enjoying what the locals enjoyed in the winter sunshine:  大观公园; (in traditional Chinese 大觀公園) Dàguān Gōngyuán – Daguan means “Grand View”.

There is a collection of miniature buildings (should that be small erections?) in the park.

A major attraction is the Daguan Pavilion, which has collections of paintings and calligraphy.

People go boating in the park (there are trips upriver by boat from or to the park, but I wasn’t really in the mood), and there are modern sculptures scattered about the park.

 Not to mention the funfair (not open during my visit) and the miniature tree (Bonsai) garden.

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