30.12.2016 Kunming

We slowly crawl into Kunming train station at 9.20. As usual the station is massive, we walk all around it and still couldn’t find the promised metro system so a helpful train station employee guided us to No 2 bus and promised us it would get to the lake and it did!  We are getting used to buses getting us to the correct places now. We have treated ourselves to a posh (ish) guesthouse for 3 nights and so were really chuffed to turn up and find the place was really lovely, illy coffee, muesli, yoghurt and full English breakfast were on the menu. We ordered muesli, fruit and yoghurt with coffees and felt virtuous, at least for a while. Our room was ready so we went up and oooh’d and ahhh’d at it, we nearly passed out with excitement when we found out we had under floor heating in our room……OMG…..we stood on the floor for ages…..

Feet warmed we set off to explore this city. We had already noticed there were lots of ethnic minorities here, the faces of the people were much more diverse than anywhere else we have been in China, this was accompanied by a heavy policy presence. 

We walked around the Green Lake where the locals were enjoying the return of seagulls for the winter by taking photos and hand feeding them. The lakeside was full of bakeries, restaurants and cafes with the odd bar thrown in, perfect for a couple of posh packers like us!

We wandered up to the nearby student area and the huge amount of cafes and bars amazed us, there was some very different food in offer as well which excited us, it really felt like we had come a long way.

On of the regional specialties is Across the bridge noodles which we tried at Brothers Jiang restaurant, no English spoken or English menu, thankfully the staff are used to westerners and are happy to throw all the food into the bowl for us, we just managed to get a photo of all the bits and pieces! The bowl was massive, it was one portion but was plenty for us 2, how the chinese stay so skinny is beyond me with these huge noodle portions.

Supermarket trip was next on our list, Walmart was nearby so we ventured in. The layout is higgledy piggledy, no straight aisles here, it is on 3 floors and no discernable logic to the layout, we wandered through noting there were nearly as many staff as customers, some with the usual loudspeakers, presumably demanding you to buy more stuff. The entrance was inviting with cured legs of ham everywhere, goats cheese and cured ham are Yunnan region specialities which we were willing to indulge in, it seemed very European and festive! We found ourselves in the red wine section, surprise, surprise! It had one aisle for red and white wine, and another 2 aisles for local baiju and other clear spirits which ranged from a few RMB to 1000’s RMB per bottle, many in fancy red presentation boxes. It is big business here. The sales assistants tried to sell us expensive red wine, we politely declined and went for a cheap Languedoc red. We aren’t that posh packer! 

Selection of pickles.

We had a look for thermos flasks, the range was huge and expensive. We didn’t buy this one.

On our way back to the guesthouse we saw a bakery with a queue, having no idea what the fuss was about we have been here long enough to just join a queue and know it will be good food at the end of it, we were not disappointed. Profiteroles filled with a delicious cream seemed to be the delicacy so we procured a couple of shovels full along with an egg tart each, for a varied diet. By the time we had left there seemed to be just as big a queue of people watching us!

We greedily ate half the bag of profiteroles, they were sooooo goooood.

As we are in Kunming for NYE we needed to do some research on bars for the big night, having not had a drink for 11 days we thought we would take it easy and start with a craft ale at 3pm just to see how the bar was. With our guesthouse map we managed to locate Humdinger microbrewery, but it was closed.  A family was outside the entrance, and this turned out to be the owner and he was more than willing, indeed insisted, that we should try the ale anyway.  It turned out that he also owned our guesthouse hence why he was happy to ply us with his ale,. We had a half litre of IPA and Belgium style wheat ale, we also got a taster of the golden ale as well. This fortuitous incident became even better when he insisted we shouldn’t pay, the till wasn’t open,  we agreed to come back tomorrow to pay our bill.

Refreshed we took a slow walk back to the guesthouse to enjoy the wine and some star anise and cinnamon flavoured roasted sunflower seeds we had bought. 

We listened to some tunes and enjoyed sitting on bean bags on the heated floor, it is the simple pleasures in life that make the difference sometimes!

Dinner was a Yunnan restaurant,  full of chinese enjoying massive plates of food.  We had a spicy beef dish, fried potatoes and fried goat’s cheese, possibly not our healthiest meal but definately one of the tastiest.

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