Day By Day

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Return to China -- Part 17, The Hills of Kunming

The next day we flew to Kunming in the South of China, famed as the home of the "Flying Tigers". Kunming is the capital of Yunnan Province and one of the most dynamic growth areas in China today. Because of its equable climate [mild winters and cool summers] Kunming is known as the "Spring City" and has become a favored site in which China's new elite builds vacation houses.

Our first stop in Kunming was at a local restaurant where we had lunch and discovered an unfortunate feature of life in South China. Although major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong are well supplied with modern toilet facilities, out in the provinces toilets often consist of little more than a hole in the ground. My cold had advanced to the point where I was in pretty bad shape and couldn't really appreciate the experience, although others in the party seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Several people in the group commented on these orange cactus flowers, so I took a picture. 

Rocks and flowers overhanging the parking lot. Nice! After lunch we headed out to the Western Hills from which we could get some spectacular views of the city.

Our bus took us part of the way to the Dragon Gate complex, then we boarded golf carts for the rest of the journey. This is where we wound up.

And, of course, there were lots and lots of stairs left to climb.

There was no way I was going to go all the way to the top, but I did go up a few levels to check out the view. The guide was right -- it is spectacular. 

Kunming is situated on the shore of Lake Dian Chi, one of Asia's largest freshwater lakes. Unfortunately, for centuries the city has been dumping its sewage into the lake with the result that it is too polluted to be potable. The pronounced green color is from algae that grows almost everywhere. 

In 1990 a modern sewage treatment plant was installed and since then a portion of the lake has been reclaimed, but there is still a long, long way to go before its waters are clean.

Some of the hardier members of the group continued their climb all the way to the top, but I settled down to nurse my cold and take some pictures.

There are lots of these Buddhist images along the way and people touch them for luck. Not very sanitary, but it's a local custom. 

Eventually the high climbers returned to the group and we descended to our bus which took us on to our next destination, the Huating Temple.

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