Yunnan Tour – Kunming to Singapore Day 11 (11 Days 10 Nights November 2015)

The morning that greeted us was quite different from the sunny day before. It was cold and a little foggy outdoor. It was already 7.30 am and it was still dark outside. We then went up to the restaurant on the 28th floor for breakfast.

The restaurant was quiet and we were the few quests up here for breakfast. Perhaps it was still early and most hotel guests were still sleeping. During China packaged tours, we would be having breakfast much earlier at 7 am to avoid the crowd. Anyway the buffet spread was ready. It was quite impressive with the variety of food available. There was an egg counter and we ordered omelets. Another counter nearby served noodle soup.

We took our food and went to a table by the window and enjoyed our last breakfast here in Yunnan. My wife loved the porridge and we went for a few rounds to fill up our stomach to begin our day. There were pastries and fruits as well. It was a very good breakfast indeed.

Back in our room, my wife continued to pack and get ready. From our room window we could see it was getting brighter outdoor and it was already 8.30 am. So I left the hotel to walk over to Xiao Xi Men to purchase bus tickets to get to the airport after lunch. It was a little cold this morning as I stepped outside the hotel.

The streets were not deserted as Kunming residents were busy getting ready to go to work. Security was tight too as police were outdoor patrolling the streets with dogs. Just right outside the hotel along the road side and pavements were street hawkers selling hot food. Locals were buying food and even security personnel were among the crowd. It was an interesting sight in the morning in the city.

I turned to the main road and walked along Dongfeng West Road towards Green Lake. It was a straight road all the way passing shops that were still closed. I walked pretty quickly due to the chill and observed this part of the city that we didn’t explore. In about 20 minutes, I reached the junction with Renmin West Road and Xiao Xi Men was just across the road.

I crossed the road when traffic lights were in my favour and then walked to the bus terminal which was just a carpark behind a building at the junction of Renmin West Road. I recognized this place as this was the first destination where we got off the bus from the airport a week ago when we walked over to Grand Park Hotel nearby. The office for the airport shuttle bus 919B was simply a table manned by a lady staff selling bus tickets. The cost for the bus tickets was 13 CNY each. I bought our tickets for the bus that would depart slightly after noon and then I walked back the same way to New Era Hotel.

It was the same scene but now the roads were busier. As it was already slightly after 9 am, some shops were beginning to open. There was a Muslim restaurant near the bus terminal. More people were out on the street now as the city got brighter. Security personnel were checking the streets with dogs to prepare the city for locals and visitors to enjoy the city for the day in peace. It was a nice walk this morning and I arrived New Era Hotel around 9.30 am.

My dear wife had done packing and I rested for a while. I related to her my adventure and it was good I went out alone. The walk back and forth took about 45 minutes and it was a little cold as well. So we watched a little more TV and chatted with the children to expect us back home later in the evening.

After 10 am, we hit the street again for one last round to roam the city in Kunming. It wasn’t as cold now with the sun already out for a while. There were more people now on the shopping square and the vicinity but it wasn’t as crowded as the day before. Shops in the malls were not opened yet as we roamed the outdoor area.

There were some places we didn’t explore the day before and we found the surrounding vicinity pretty nice. It was like a park surrounding this shopping area with the pedestrian walking street. Some trees were still in dark green while others had turned yellow and brown in autumn. The air was fresh even though the roads were busy.

By 11 am, shops were opening and street stalls were getting ready for business. Carrefour Supermarket had opened much earlier and promotional stalls set up outside were receiving customers. Eateries along the street catered to folks for a quick bite with take away food. We bought some snacks too for a quick lunch later back in our room.

We continued to roam and explore this very nice shopping street. There were quite a number of art pieces which we failed to notice. Perhaps the place here was crowded with shoppers and we missed these objects. They were pretty interesting and unique. We didn’t do any more shopping this morning and we returned to New Era Hotel.

Back in our room, the snacks we bought was our simple lunch. We needed to check out and head back to Xiao Xi Men to catch the shuttle bus ride back to Kunming Airport. With a last round of communication with our children before losing wifi connection, we took our bags and descended to front desk to process our check out. It was completed shortly.

Concierge staff helped us call a taxi and instructed the taxi driver to send us to the bus terminal. This taxi driver was a lady and the hotel staff specifically told her to send us to Xiao Xi Men bus terminal. So off we went and left New Era Hotel. We were very pleased with this hotel strategically located right in this shopping area in the city centre. The staff were helpful and friendly and we enjoyed dining at the restaurant on the 28th floor with a commanding view of the surrounding.

So the taxi drove along Dongfeng West Road where I walked along this morning to purchase the bus tickets. When we reached the junction with Renmin West Road, and instead of turning into this road, she drove on straight ahead. I told here she was going the wrong way she still argued with me. I forced her to make an U-turn and then drove back to Renming West Road. Apparently she was mistaken because most visitors would head to another location to take another more expensive shuttle bus to the airport.

Once we were outside the bus terminal, I instructed her to stop and let us alight. We took our bags and then walked into the bus terminal to wait for the bus. It was good that I came to purchase the bus tickets earlier so I could recognize the place otherwise we would run into a stressful situation having to purchase bus tickets on the spot at another unfamiliar location.

Not long after, the 919B airport shuttle bus drove out from the carpark at the back of the building. There were quite a few passengers waiting to board this bus. Having stored our luggage at the storage compartment, we boarded the bus and were on our way to Kunming Airport. The bus was big, new and very comfortable. We arrived the airport in about an hour where road traffic was not too heavy around the city area.

We collected our luggage and went to Thai Airways counter to check in our bags and then collected our boarding passes to Bangkok as well as the connecting flight from Bangkok back to Singapore. Next we proceeded to clear custom and immigration. Once cleared, we were free to roam and explore this very new and nice airport. There were shops including Duty Free Shops here. Of course restaurants and cafes were already opened but the airport was very quiet. There were water dispensers available too so we filled up our bottles.

Having checked the airport and with nothing else to do, we walked to our boarding gate to wait for our flight to Bangkok. Not long after, we were called to board our flight. Soon we took off and were on our way to Bangkok. The flight was uneventful and took slightly over an hour and we landed at Bangkok Airport.

We had nearly 3 hours of transit time so we did some shopping at the airport. The airport in Bangkok has more shops and restaurants to cater to many international travellers. So we took the opportunity to purchase duty free items. My dear wife bought a nice watch from a duty free shop too.

Soon enough, we were called to board our flight to Singapore. We then settled down comfortably and prepared to head for home. Customer service was great flying Thai Airways. The food served on board was pretty good too. We finally landed at Changi Airport after a smooth and trouble free flight. It was great to be back in Singapore.

Having cleared immigration and after collecting our luggage, we headed to the taxi queue to wait for a taxi. Soon, we boarded one and were on our way home. We looked forward meeting our children back home waiting for us.

It was a great trip to Yunnan. Kunming is a nice and modern city which is very relaxing and the people friendly and helpful. Green Lake area is a very nice place to spend the afternoon and watch the locals enjoy their beautiful lake park. This city is rather leisurely and the locals seem to be healthy and happy.

Dali is full of nostalgia of the past in the ancient city. This ancient city is authentic with locals living inside this city. Students from nearby schools would throng the ancient city after school in their unmistakable navy blue uniforms. Shopping and dining were surprisingly quite good and we bought quite a lot of stuff. Erhai Lake is quite nice and a good place to relax and enjoy the surrounding lakeside activity.

Lijiang is a very beautiful place. There are a few ancient towns in the city. The main ancient city in town is very big and beautiful, especially at night but it is very commercialized attracting crowds of visitors. Shuhe Ancient City is more authentic with locals living inside the city and surrounding farmlands. There are horses and horse carts available in the city for visitors to experience some nostalgic ride around town. The famous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is gorgeous and majestic and can be seen from the city. Horse riding and boating at Lashi Lake was very enjoyable.

Shangrila is a mystical city with an elevation over 3000 m. The ancient city was rebuilding when we visited so this marred our visit. However, Shika Snow Mountain was our highlight where we ascended above 4500 m to explore the top of the world over there. It was memorable indeed even though we had to deal with altitude sickness. The bus ride from Lijiang to Shangrila and back is very scenic where the river from the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge could be seen.

Travelling between cities by bus is very convenient and cost just over 100 CNY each way. The big buses are quite nice and very comfortable. Avoid those medium buses which cost slightly less but the experience is not really worth it. Yunnan is an eye opener for us. The scenic beauty far surpassed our expectation.

The people we met were friendly and helpful. Young people willingly allowed us to use their mobile phones to call our hotels to arrange for pickups. The hotels staff also helped us call our hotels for onward travel to arrange transfer as well. Some people we met were local tourists visiting Yunnan for the first time too.

So it was a mission accomplished. We are very happy with our 11 Days 10 Nights tour of Yunnan and would look forward to visiting again. Our air tickets was about $430 transiting in Bangkok and spending one night there. Recently, promotion from Thai Airways is very good with air tickets to Kunming at under $300 which is very tempting for us to make another trip back to visit Yunnan.

Unfortunately, our schedule is uncertain for next year but we had already booked flights to Danang for next March as well as flights to Europe for May 2017. Hence, we will wait and see. There are so many destinations we wish to visit so Yunnan has to be put on the back burner for now.

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