22 December 2016

Kunming City: An Oriental Bloom!

Kunming wasn't a bad decision! I negotiated that contract to secure my Christmas holiday for 2016's festivities. Yunnan called me, I didn't need to leave the borders of Mainland China to experience another top city. Famed for colourful blooms and stone forests, I boarded my flight to Kunming, twenty minutes late but China Eastern knows to keep it right for the return!

Touching down into Kunming's Changshui International Airport twenty minutes late, I was ready to rest my head for the night but I had a certain adrenaline surging through my veins! Calling up a few days before my departure I wanted the Chinese address for that property as Chinese taxi drivers can be so unhelpful sometimes. Keeping it together my room was not bad for what it costed, considering the prime location that it held I was willing to get on with my sightseeing without fuss. Fast forward, making the choice for a lie-in I powered through to Kunming's Yuantong Temple to grab hold of some chill, I had hit the ground running after a six day week and wanted Yunnan to show me that I wasn't going crazy, well not completely! Located just round the corner from my questionable hotel room I found Kunming's 1,200 year old Yuantong Temple, fronting me with a feeling of calm, it was all going to be Okay K!

Getting my travelling grind back together ten or so weeks of solid work I was living, snapping away like a crazy fool I was living! Respecting the rules to not light any incense sticks other than what I was given was a given, lighting up my two candles and assorted incense sticks I sent several messages to the spirits. Taking in every ounce of serenity had to be done, I had high hopes for Kunming as those negative ones had talked down upon this city, I wasn't disappointed by Yunnan's provincial city! Looking into the waters of the temples water I was almost staring 2016 in the face, I didn't need a miracle from high above but some good vibes wouldn't have gone a miss. Taking in every last second of chill, I wasn't tracking down the history of this amazing temple because it was restoring some calm. Now, strictly speaking I wanted to find out where the Chinese monks found their get-up, their threads looked so comfy! Kunming kept showing me more, like a blooming flower.

Kunming's Metro system hadn't bloomed yet, in order to sow those seeds of discovery round the city I had to trust the bus to discover the Bird's and Flower Market. Getting off four or more stops earlier I stumbled upon a market that shared the Chinese characters for 'market' and 'flower' but I was served a whole lot of wholesale market instead! Resembling Kunming's version of my home's Bilston market, it was something different and required a strong stomach for sure! With money in my pocket and a whole lot of fire in my stomach I was ready to walk to the furthest point of Kunming until I found that goddamn market! Seeing this miscalculation as a mini-triumph I ended up seeing a whole lot of Kunming city Realness in the process! Walking between four more bus stops I finally made it to my desired destination, I was ready to see the colourful plants that took me to Yunnan. Nothing good grows easy!

Passing the tea, I was not looking for an authentic brew, I wanted to be brought some flowers! Famed for its eternal spring, Yunnan's provincial city is the Amsterdam of the Orient. I wasn't going to charge into to any commercial flower market so that Bai Long Road market showed me some ordinary Kunming flowers, satisfying that request for my Kunming trip. Clocking those Bonsai's I was ready to move onto to the birds section but I heard the sound of some barking, there surely wasn't a section dedicated to pets? Yes, every accessory was available for the discerning dog owner but I wasn't ready for the dog aisle, it was something normal for China what I saw but for my western eyes I wasn't able to fully acknowledge that sight. Fish! I had never seen such cheaply priced fish, I wasn't looking for that sight but those scaly things were huge! Undoubtedly, the blooms and bonsai's of Kunming's Bird's and Flower Market had me walking all those steps because it was worth it! Yes K!

Over my early morning alarm call, I flagged a taxi towards Kunming's East Coach Terminal and believe me it was a blessing to arrive there when that taxi acted stupid like it was a million miles away! Serious?! Snoozing my life away I found myself at Kunming's stony UNESCO World Heritage Site wonder in the nearby district of Shilin. Shilin happened to mean 'Stone Forest' in Chinese, I wasn't ready to play no games after I bought my tickets because I wanted to know where the entrance to the forest was!? Stretching my legs I walked for what seemed like a marathon long time, seeing those stones was a sight of victory! Weighing up my opinions I didn't want to spend the rest of my day in one place that was a distance from Kunming, snatching photos I was greeted by the 'Stone Screen' with a stroke of luck! I wasn't going to be a walking photo opportunity! I was on holiday not modeling for...! Stone cold! Not today!

It's none of my business but those children were running riot between those stones, I knew I had no place to judge but I was on to the next one. Keeping an eye on the time I was all about getting back to Kunming. Rewinding back to the previous evening, I was reunited with a friend who I had met wasted in a Chengdu Gay club, he may have only been able to say 'Good Morning' in English but we had kept in-touch through the medium of WeChat. I told him that I would be coming to Kunming and he graciously invited me to dinner. Now, I wasn't thirsty because I knew we're just friends so the dinner was lovely, drawing close to Chinese custom he paid and I forcibly bought a round of Starbucks for afters. Of course the Stone Forest was something to write about, getting my life I snoozed my way back to Kunming's East Coach Terminal just the same as I did that morning. Heading for the train station I was fronted by something that riled me, Kunming's vibe told me not to mind!

Arriving back from the Stone Forest I thought I was in the mood for street food but I was open to a different change of scene. Translating what I needed to I flagged another taxi towards Wen Hua Alley and Wen Lin Street to see a random online recommendation come alive for myself. Expecting food stalls I embraced the line of tattoo parlours and small restaurants, taking my time I took in that side street view. Finding an Indian restaurant I dined on some lovely food, keeping to a smooth pace. Not expecting anything from Kunming I found that was the right train of thought to take. It was mostly a chilled evening, no it was completely a chilled evening because I was preparing to take the train to Dali the next day. I snapped some lively yet still photos that some up the energetic yet chilled vibe of Kunming. But really why did the busies need to block off the road? Look up scouse slang for police officer. Bless!

Since that late touchdown I was in love with Yunnan's biggest city! Taking off from Tianhe Airport did the trick, kicking off my Christmas holiday! Loving my life in Yunnan's capital of Kunming, I was not shaded with any rain or shadow because the weather was blessed compared to Wuhan's dreary forecast. Kunming's Stone Forest took me out of the concrete fashion that Kunming seems to be shaking off. Finding solace amongst the quiet of Yuantong Temple I was transported to another place compared to my crazy life. Embracing a new city was amazing, keeping to the footpath was something that drove me insane because I am all about going underground, get that Metro sorted Kunming! Reconnecting with Kay was amazing, he's chasing a whole other dream, please let him love the skin that he finally be living in! Resting my head before my epic journey to Dali, I was on to! This flowering city showed me a chilled yet crazy scene, this is China so no Red Light windows, Lady China!

Be That Wild Flower!

Joseph Harrison 

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