Kunming, China

Kunming is the capital and largest city of Yunnan province in Southwest China. It was famous as Yunnan-Fou until the 1920s. It is a cultural, economic, and political centre of Yunnan as well as a home to several universities, galleries and museums. There are many businesses in Kunming too. Kunming consists of an old walled city, a modern commercial district, as well as residential and observatory areas.  At the outskirts is a known bronze temple, dating from the Ming dynasty. Let us visit the busy streets and see what is in there that delights our eyes. And later enjoy the scenery of the parks to ease up the noise in the streets.

Kunming Streets

The city has grown rapidly under China’s modernization efforts. Kunming office buildings and housing projects developed at a fast pace while its streets have widened. Kunming is designated a special tourism center leading to a proliferation of luxury hotels and high rise buildings.

The city center has three major squares; Jinma Biji Square, Nanping Square and Dongfeng Square.  There are five main commercial areas in Kunming but the most popular pedestrian streets are Nanping Jie, Jingxing Birds-Flowers’ Market, and Jinma Biji Fang.

Kunming’s huge square outside the Workers’ Cultural Hall at the Beijing Lu-Dongfeng Lu intersection is a public focus with crowds doing taijiquan and playing badminton in the mornings.  Weekend amateur theatre acts are also performed in the square.  The city’s true center is west of the square across the adjacent old Panlong River  outside the Kunming Department Store at the Nanping Lu/Zhengyi Lu crossroads. This area is a densely crowded shopping district packed with electronics and clothing stores. The square is surrounded by many high rise structures.

The center is an area of importance to Kunming.  Under Kunming’s rapid modernization, the commercial street has been demolished to make way for apartments and shopping centers. Rising at the backdrop of a supermarket one block north of Zhengyi Lu, Nancheng Qingzhen Si is the city’s new mosque with its green dome and chevron-patterned minaret built on the site of an earlier Qing edifice.

Two large Chinese pagodas rise in the vicinity of Jinbi Lu parallel to Dongfeng Lu, each a solid thirteen storey of whitewashed brick crowned with four iron cockerels. The West Pagoda was constructed between 824 and 859, during the Tang Dynasty. The entrance to the West Pagoda is along a narrow lane on the right. In the surrounding courtyard, people allow their afternoons to while away playing cards and sipping tea. The East Pagoda which was built about the same time as the West Pagoda, is a more cosmetic duplicate standing in an ornamental garden.

Parks and Gardens

Cuihu Park is one of Kunming’s main parks and that is surrounded by a lake and greenery. It has a huge and elaborate network of winding paths and waterways, with lotus-covered pools and overhanging willows. It is a place where many people exercise, sing and feed the flocks of gulls. At the west side of the park is the statue of one of Yunnan’s popular patriots - Nie Er, the composer of China’s national anthem. Now it is open to public for free.

Daguan Park is on Dian Chi in Kunming’s southwestern limits. Originally developed by the energetic seventeenth-century Qing emperor Kangxi, it has been redesigned over the years to include a funfair, emporiums, and food stalls. ]Other parks in Kunming include Black Dragon Pool, and the Kunming Botanical Gardens in the north, and Wenmiao Tea Garden in Wuhua District.

Photo by philippe on Flickr

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