20,000 leagues under the sky, 2004- travel blog

City Centre.

One of many statues in the city.

1000 year old temple.

Main temple building.

Detail of panel.

Kunming wasn't that bad, I actually quite liked it for such a big city and walked about it for a few hours on Saturday during the day. I found myself going to the zoo here, partly accidentally as I was looking for an ancient temple that is in the same park and thought that it might be in the zoo grounds. The zoo was awful, big tigers and leopards shouldn't be in cages the size of hotel rooms. The grounds were very pretty at least and as there was a hill I got to work out where the temple was and how to get there. The temple when I finally got there was really scenic and peaceful and I took a quite a few photographs.

After the temple I went back to my hotel for a short rest then I decided to take the bull by the horns and go to the station to try to book my own train ticket as the travel agents said it was too early. When I got there it was mayhem (or in the land of the panda, pandemonium) and I thought

it I'll have to get the travel agent to do it so started heading back. I had managed to decifer the electronic sign board and could see that my train was selling tickets and that some classes had already sold out. Before I got out of the station concourse though I decided I was being a wimp and hadn't walked 40 minutes to the station not even to try so I joined one of the queue's, I used the mobile phone trick, type the date and time on the screen and show that saying the town name and miming "sleeper". It didn't work, she looked at me blankly but then made a phone call and told me to try queue 3. I started queueing in that queue and was called to the front by the server. She had basic English but enough for us to get me the correct ticket in the right class! I was really happy and felt rather pleased with myself.

This morning, I had to get up early to get my breakfast before the bus. I'd guessed that the restaurant would be really busy at that time of the morning with all of the tour groups staying there getting ready to go somewhere. Anyway, there were no free tables and I had a plate of breakfast from the buffet so couldn't decide to come back later so I asked a guy sitting on his own if I could share his table. Bad move! The guy (Austrian or "Vienesse" as he said) talked at me for 10 minutes, I think he thought that I'd just flown in on a tour. He told me all the things you can't do in China - "You can't buy your own train tickets, they won't let you so that CITS have to do it for you and charge 100 Yuan commision", "getting to Lhasa from Chengdu is almost impossible you have to go to Golmund", and other such pieces of garbage. He never listened to a word I tried to say, I told him I had just booked the train myself, "I know, it's impossible"? I gave up, finished my breakfast and left! Unfortunately I only had a small selection of breakfast as I was going to go back and I never got a cup of coffee.

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