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Published: October 11th 2013
I guess it's third time lucky after all. Because of my scheduling difficulties with the short 15-day free visa I had, I decided to bypass the provincial capital of Kunming in transit twice during my first two weeks here in Yunnan as I made my way up through the province, telling myself I would come back again. And indeed I finally did. After an early morning 7h bus ride northwards again, I finally arrived back in Kunming for what I guess would be my last time in a while. And this time, I did indeed manage to stay several days to check it out.
Kunming is pretty much everything you would expect from a large Chinese city. Sprawling, densely-populated with heavy traffic, and with a mixture of the spanking new skyscrapers that have become symbolic of the country's rapid economic growth, interspersed with the thousands-year old temples that continue to dot even the city centre. Now I had glimpses of what a modern Yunnanese city looks like in Jinghong, Dali, Lijiang, and even Shangri-la to a certain extent, but Kunming, not surprisingly, towers over them all in terms of scale.
And perhaps I'm getting a little soft (or hard,
Pretty cool painting about Chinese depiction of Hell. Turns out it doesn't look much different from the Christian one.
whichever way you think of it), but it seemed to me that the people here in Kunming don't quite talk as loud, and don't quite spit as much, as what I remember from my first arrival in Yunnan in Jinghong. And perhaps I'm just getting immune to it, and don't notice it as much anymore, but on the whole my three weeks or so in Yunnan have suggested to me that the Yunnanese or Southern Chinese aren't quite the same as their northern counterparts, based on the few occasions I've visited the country's capital of Beijing. For one thing, the Mandarin accent is softer, and much closer to the way we speak it back in my home country of Singapore. But more importantly, the Yunnanese, both the minorities as well as the ubiquitous Han Yunnanese, don't seem as aggressive, scheming or impatient as their northern counterparts. Yes they still spit and talk loudly, but my experience here the past few weeks has certainly corrected some misconceptions and stereotypes I might have had of all mainland Chinese, based on my limited encounters with them elsewhere.
Anyway, as my time in Kunming comes to an end, so does my Chinese journey...for
now! I'll be heading back towards the Vietnamese border, and probably spending the next month or so in Hanoi, as I'd promised myself to experience living there slightly longer-term than the 4-5 days I spent last year. After Hanoi though, my current plan is to re-enter China again for a couple of weeks. Until then, see you when I'm back on the road with this blog again!
Stayed at Mingtong Yinxiang Youth Hostel.
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