We woke up with much anticipation for the start of our Yunnan tour heading to Kunming this morning. It was just 6.20 am as we pulled away the curtains to watch the sunrise show from our suit room windows. It was still dark in Bangkok City but the sky was getting a tinge of greyish blue with a tiny red ball creeping up ahead above one of the buildings in the city. The clouds added to the beauty of the sunrise with the far end painting up an expanding stretch of pink turning red. The sun rose higher and pierced through some clouds and not long after, the city had awaken.
Breakfast time came soon enough as we needed to catch our late morning flight to Kunming. We went to the restaurant at 7 am. The restaurant was quite empty early this morning. This hotel does cater to tour group. So it was important to have early breakfast. We saw many Chinese tourists at the hotel the day before hence it was prudent to be early to avoid the crowd.
The restaurant was like any typical hotel restaurant and the buffet spread was fine with the usual local and international selection. Although Grand Sukhumvit Hotel Bangkok is a 5-star hotel, the buffet spread can’t be compared to other 5-star hotels like Sofitel or Pullman under the Accor Group. Anyway, we were still pretty satisfied with our breakfast, especially for the price we paid for our stay of just around $90 for the night and upgraded to a suit room. The service staff were quite good too.
Back in our room, we freshened up again, packed and checked our bags and then lingered awhile watching Bangkok City starting its day now with the sun fully out. Road traffic wasn’t very heavy yet but the city was gradually coming alive. Near to 8 am, we went to the lobby to check out. It was over in a moment and soon we were waiting for a taxi outside the hotel. Concierge helped us get a taxi willing to go on the meter. Next we were on our way to the airport.
We arrived at the airport without incident at 9 am. We took our bags and went to Thai Airways to check in our bags and then proceeded to clear immigration. Not long after, we were roaming the shopping mall like airport window shopping to wait for the call to board our flight. There were some shops that were quite interesting and we made a mental note to look at some watches from one of the duty free shops upon our return trip where we might pick up a watch that could be on sale.
Soon we were called to the boarding gate. We then took the transfer bus and boarded our flight to Kunming. The 3 hours flight was uneventful and we were served lunch onboard. The service of this airline was good. We disembarked, cleared immigration, collected our bags and then headed to the airport exit.
Our hotel in Kunming is the Grand Park Hotel Kunming located near Cuihui, the Green Lake area and airport bus 919B would terminate near this location. We then went to look for the counter to buy the bus ticket for the bus 919B to the city. It was just outside the airport slightly on the left. Having made payment of 13 CNY per ticket, we made our way to the left and boarded a waiting bus.
The airport bus was very new and pretty clean. The bus left not long after and two passengers were eating melon seeds on the bus. The bus driver told them to stop eating and not litter the bus. Along the way, the bus stopped at a few locations to pick up passengers. Some passenger alighted at different locations in the city as well. The journey was pretty comfortable and for the price of just 13 CNY, it was very good. Taking a taxi to the city would cost over 100 CNY.
The bus ride eventually terminated at Xiaoximen after about an hour’s journey. Xiaoximen in Chinese means Little West Gate. However, don’t expect to see any west gate over there. When we arrived, the bus was parked behind parking space of some shops at the traffic junction of Dongfeng West Road and Remin West Road.
We walked out to this traffic junction and crossed the overhead bridge on the left at Dongfeng West Road and then walked straight ahead into Cuihui South Road. Grand Park Hotel Kunming was just 3 minutes ahead on the right and we arrived at our hotel in about 6 minutes walk from the bus terminal. So it was quite easy to travel to our hotel from the airport at a very affordable cost.
We entered Grand Park Hotel and proceeded to check in to our room. The staff were very friendly and helpful. We were given a room on the high floor with a view of the Green Lake. The room was very spacious and the view of Cuihui was very nice. We could see the beautiful lake park not far away with buildings of the city in the background.
The bed at the corner was clean and comfortable. In front of the bed was a big TV on a TV table. A writing desk with a bench was on another wall beside the huge room window. Bathroom came with a bathtub and full range of toiletries. Wifi worked and as expected plenty of Chinese programs on TV. It was already 4.30 pm so we decided to head out to explore and enjoy Cuihui Park before it got dark.
It was just a few minutes walk to Cuihui from the hotel after passing shops and restaurants. The street was busy and the park was even more busy. People were strolling, dancing and enjoying the park. The lake park was huge and very pleasant under the bright autumn sun.
Surprisingly, there were many seagulls flying around above the lake and we wondered where they came from as Kunming is an inland city. Were they seagulls? They certainly looked like seagulls to us having seen many in Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
We ventured deeper into the park and it was really a very pleasant experience. Many happy people were enjoying the park with all sorts of activities. Boating activities were possible on the lake and seemed very enjoyable. Booths were set up along the walkway in the park selling traditional clothes, arts, food and drinks and souvenirs. The park was very clean as well. It was a little chilly during autumn and we wore a light jacket as we took our leisurely stroll at the park.
At another part of the park, many people were dancing and exercising with music in the background. They were young and old and they were really having a good time. The park was really lively but peaceful at the same time. This was indeed a happy place for the locals and visitors as well.
We stopped by a shop to buy some snacks. We bought a bowl of potatoes and then continued to enjoy the park walking and eating the snacks. Unfortunately, this snack looked good but didn’t taste good. The potatoes were not well cooked and were too spicy. Initially, we thought they were similar to our familiar French fries but it turned out to be a disappointment. As such, we threw away most of the snacks.
More shops were set up further into the park and they seemed to be doing good business attracting crowds of visitors. As we ventured further into the other end of the park, the park became quieter with much fewer people. The golden leaves of autumn illuminated under the late afternoon sun was lovely. It was truly nice to have such a nice park in the city.
While exploring the park, we ended up in an enclosed area with shops, restaurants and an outdoor food court. Tables and chairs were set up for alfresco dining outside a few restaurants and cafes. However, crowds were absent here. Perhaps we came during the off peak hours. Maybe this part of the park might come to live in the evening? We just won’t know.
During our visit, there were sales people of all sorts stuffing flyers to park visitors. They were mostly tour agents and some were from restaurants nearby. We received one such flyers from some ladies dressed in their traditional clothes. They were from the restaurant at the entrance of the park. It was already 6 pm and the sun was about to set. We witnessed the reflection of the setting sun on the lake turning part of the lake into golden colour which was really pretty.
As we reached the entrance of the park, we were approached by the ladies from the restaurant again inviting us into the restaurant to try out their local food. Having looked at the menu, we obliged. The restaurant was quite big and adorned in their traditional decoration, typically Chinese in Yunnan flavour. The restaurant was quite empty when we dined there that evening.
We were recommended a few dishes so we settled down to enjoy our first dinner in Yunnan. The food came shortly and we tried out the local dishes. The food was fine but we didn’t find it exceptional. Perhaps we were not so used to their local taste. Anyway, it wasn’t expensive and with the flyer we received earlier, there was discount given to our final bill. The dinner was good except a few other diners came in later smoked in the restaurant and somewhat diminished the enjoyment of the dinner in this traditional restaurant by the park.
When we left the restaurant, it was already dark all over. The park became quiet and secluded. It was getting cold too. Shops and restaurants across the road were lit up showing another vibe of this Chinese city. The road outside Cuihui was still busy with shoppers and diners out and about adjourning from the park into shops and restaurants to spend their evening.
We then walked along the road towards Grand Park Hotel. We didn’t return to our hotel immediately but walked further down to the main road towards Renmin Middle Road. We then crossed the road and entered the shopping mall to explore. There were some sales event going on outside the mall on clothes and winter wear. We didn’t need those stuff so we skipped the promotional tents set up outside the mall.
The mall along the main road was selling high end expensive stuff and having had a quick look around, we left the departmental store. We went into a convenience store outside and bought a large bottle of drinking water and then went back to Grand Park Hotel. The hotel was rather quiet. Perhaps this was the low season we were visiting.
Back in our room, we watched the night view of Kunming City from our huge room windows for awhile. Then it was time to get into bed to watch TV. We also kept up with the children back home with the excellent wifi from our room. We were very pleased with this hotel near Cuihui. Service staff were friendly and perhaps we could speak Mandarin which made things a lot easier for communication.
All was well for this first day in Yunnan. Flying to Kunming from Bangkok was a good idea and the 3 hours flight was easy to get over and we arrived Kunming in very good condition. Transfer from the airport to the hotel was simple enough and cost effective as well.
Cuihui Park was a great place to start our itinerary. It was a really beautiful place with happy people enjoying the park. So we finally made it to Yunnan and the next day we would take a bus ride to Dali for more excitement as our accommodation would be right inside the ancient city.
Continue to Day 3 …