Colorful Yunnan – Over half of China’s 55 minorities live in this province.
Kunming Photo Album ⇔ (Clicking on photos reveals the entire caption and often makes them bigger.)
We lived in Kunming from 2005-2010, and always love returning! Its nickname is “Spring City” because it has mild winters, and long cool summers–we didn’t even need an air conditioner!
The first thing that struck me on my first visit was the blue sky–we moved from Xi’an, and although there were many things we loved about Xi’an, we rarely saw blue skies and we got very tired of coughing every morning because of the pollution. After spending two weeks in the hospital with pneumonia (Xi’an, January 2005) we decided it was time to look for “bluer skies” and we found them in Kunming (Yunnan Province).
I had several pages about Kunming on my old website; they may make it here eventually, but for now I’ll post some of the photos here from “downtown,” the International Horticultural Expo and the Minorities park; I’ll also show Kunming’s connection to the Flying Tigers and the Burma Road, On the old site you can find a “digital treasure hunt” for Green Lake Park, photos of Kunming Medical University (as well as other past universities I’ve taught or studied in), photos/essays from my students about the practice of medicine in China, and much more.
The plaza’s fountain/sprinkler is very popular when Kunming’s hot sun is out in force. In the background you see the city’s biggest mosque, and St John’s church is just to the left (not shown). This attractive view is now gone, since a new department store/movie complex stands between the mosque and the fountain (as shown in this 2012 photo).
The main plaza downtown is a wide car-less street with shops of every description. When I took this photo, this beautiful gate was flanked by KFC and Parkson’s on one side, and Pizza Hut on the other. Not far from the gate, you can find a fountain (next photo).
A key focus of activity in Kunming is the beautiful Green Lake Park. Russian sea gulls have been spending the winter here for decades, and Vivian enjoyed going to watch them fly around the lake.
Poetry in motion.
Vivian took this 2008 photo at the park. I love the contrast of tulips and snow!
Green Lake Park is behind the buildings on the left. Surrounded by tall buildings, it is an oasis of natural beauty.
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Traffic on Renmin Rd in front of part of the Medical University’s #1 Affiliated Hospital (which is also near my company’s Kunming office).
There was a Flying Tigers base in Kunming during WW2.
The lake is a great place to bring friends, like Michael’s friend Jimmy, visiting from Beijingin 2007; they’ve been friends since their days at Xiamen University (mid 1980s).
Kunming has several Wal-Marts and Carrefours, as well as other large Chinese or international markets, but the biggest market is Lou-si-wan–a vast wholesale shopping area with everything from Christmas trees to clothes, and from shoes to plumbing supplies. If a Chinese-made product is not at Lou-si-wan, it’s probably not available in Kunming. To the right is the old Lou-si-wan in Kunming, torn down in 2009 when the complex was enlarged and moved to Chenggong (about 45 minutes from Kunming).
A friend of ours in Kunming was part of a group working to set up a Flying Tigers theme park in Lijiang. The Flying Tigers were a highly successful group of American volunteers who fought side-by-side with the Chinese army, overcoming tremendous odds to stop Japan from bombing cities in south China and to protect the Burma Road (see reference below). We had the chance to introduce this park-idea to my parents (in the photo above, 2007) and to friends, and all were impressed by the vision and plans for this interesting museum and tribute to American-Chinese cooperation. Unfortunately, the group had to give up on the park, being unable to get enough sponsors. But there IS a very nice Flying Tigers Museum in Chengdu. Maybe someday I can show you some photos…
Kunming’s National Minorities Theme Park has scale models or replicas of many famous Yunnan buildings, including these famous three pagodas of Dali. After visiting the park, take a cable car from the back gate up West Hill (seen in the background here) for a great view of Kunming and Dian Chi (Lake).
This montage is from the National Minorities Theme Park, where you can hear and see native dances, buildings, music, costumes, and more. This is another favorite place to take visitors.
Kunming has a long, proud history. The area was particularly important during World War 2 (called the War of Resistance Against Japan or War Against Japanese Aggression here in China). “Dian Mian Highway” is called “The Burma Road” in English. This marker was close to the back gate of our apartment complex in Kunming, and it commemorates the work done by both Chinese and foreign workers to build the Burma Road–China’s supply lifeline in the early 1940s. This is the spot where the road began.
The last time I visited Kunming, the “West Bus Station” behind the marker had been replaced by a women’s hospital. I don’t know if the marker is still there.
Michael’s first teaching job in Kunming was at YNUBS, just down the road from this temple. Kunming is dry most of the year, but this was taken in the fall rainy season (which accounts for the muddy river).
We were shocked on Feb 1, 2007 (and March 2008, shown in other snowy photos), to wake up and see snow covering the cars in the parking lot below us.
Snowmen are a rare sight in “Spring City”.
Still “open” for business: year-round, Kunming buildings don’t have heat or A/C; in fact, businesses always keep their doors open (even when it is snowing) to show that shoppers are welcome!
The International Horticultural Expo in the NE part of the city. This is huge indoor and outdoor complex featuring flowers and plants, but it also has outdoor exhibits representing each of China’s provinces, as well as an international area with exhibits representative of many nations. We thoroughly enjoyed our first visit, and returned a few times with visitors.
This fountain is near the main greenhouse/floral hall of the Horticultural Expo.
Vivian, Michael and Andrew stand in front of a floral ship, “sailing” on a sea of flowers (2006).
We took hundreds of photos of Kunming, so this is just a “little taste” of a great place to live and work.
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