Day 4: Exploring Kunming/Overnight Train to Lijiang
It was around 11:30pm when I powered down for the night. With plans to start our day at 8:30am I figured this would be plenty time for rest. Unfortunately, I slept quite poorly and woke up many times throughout the night. I suppose my body is still adjusting to the much firmer beds here in China which from my short bit of experience seems to be the norm. Kim and Yasmeen came to wake Adam and I up at 8am and we packed up our stuff. From there we all met in the lobby of the guesthouse and decided we would go for breakfast and walk around a bit before making a concrete plan for the day. We were lucky enough to run into Stav once more in the lobby and we decided to connect on Facebook so we can stay in touch.
Breakfast food took place at noodle bar not from our place. Google Translate successfully helped me order a vegan dish, but failed Kim as she ended up with pork.
After breakfast Talaal and I went for 1 hour massages which which in total came to $25 for them both. Talaal treated me which was quite nice. 🙂 While we got massages Kim, Yasmeen and Adam went to go get SIM cards for their phones.
Returning back to the guesthouse to pack up the bags and prepare to check out Talaal and I waited for the others for a short while. Eventually I opted to go to the mobile store to look for a SIM card, but in the end decide against since it apparently was quite an ordeal to get one and I’ve managing fine so far on wifi.
Once we all met up at the guest house we went out for lunch where I had a very oily and salty eggplant dish. Most of the food I’ve had so far on this trip has been much salty then I’d prefer. Unfortunately also it seems it’s still legal for people to smoke indoors at restaurants in China and someone quite close to out table smoked throughout most of our meal.
With our stomachs mostly full we made our way to a temple here in town that Kim was looking forward to seeing. On our way there though we stopped so the others could get gelato. Once they had their sweet fix we made it to the temple. It was quite a sight to see! There was a small entry fee of 6 Yuan, but it was well worth it. Inside many people were praying and there were also a number of nuns and monks.
After leaving the temple we decided to wander around for a few hours as we still had a few hours before catchin our sleeper train to Lijiang. Wandering around in China is nice in some ways since everything is new and exciting, but also comes with some drawbacks. Perhaps the least enjoyable part of exploring the city on foot are the smells which at least to me aren’t pleasant. In particular it isn’t uncommon to smell open sewers, gasoline (very strong at times), street meat, fermentating soy, and more cigarette smoke than you might imagine possible. People seem to be completely unconcerned with second hand smoke as they smoke both indoors (in shopping malls, restrooms, restaurants, and train stations) and outdoors. In the end we ended up walking to the “flower and bird” market which had very few flowers or birds. Instead it was a pretty trendy part of town with boutique restaurants, cafés and shops. It sort of reminded me of Old Montreal. After walking for a bit Kim and Adam opted to go rest at the guesthouse while Talaal, Yasmeen and I explored a bit more. Eventually we ended up in an interesting part of town where many people were selling animals on the street. It was a sad sight to see. There was also a small area where there the shops had exclusively either a large number of aquariums or were selling either jewelry.
Once had had tired ourselves walking we made it back to the guesthouse and went with our driver to the train station. It was like no other train station I’d seen before in North America and was at best comparable to some in South America, but even then not quite the same. It was packed full of people and there was pretty much no English signage. After putting our bags through the x-ray machines we stumbled out way through the smokey station to find the train.
Once inside we went straight to our sleeper booths and settled in for the long bumpy ride. Around 9:30pm I passed out in the sleeper train after finishing up writing and listening to my nephew tell me a really weird and long fictional story about a wasp. Fingers cross I sleep better than the previous nights.