Tuesday, April 26, 2011


10th April 2011

Kunming sits at 1,870 metres above sea level. While average temperature in April is 27 degrees C, it is pleasant and dry. Subang Jaya where I lived, sits at 70 metres above sea level. Same temperature,  different altitude, different feeling.

The 3 odd hours MAS flight to Kunming landed at 3:15pm and Kunming shares the same time zone as Malaysia. The flight was almost full, majority being Chinese Malaysians visiting their ancestors' origins. A Chinese gentleman from Kajang struck a conversation with me while alighting. His group will be visiting Li Jiang and Kunming. I told him we will be doing Shangri La as well, apart from Li Jiang and of course Kunming. He was quick to point out that Shangri La is already spoiled, giving rather vague reasons. How did he know? The standard answer : "People say!"

For certain, he was not going to spoil my holidays. The "people say" phrase have been overly misused and I have to sympathize with those who succumbed to this standard phrase. 

It would only be an overnight stop at Kunming as we would catch our early flight to Shangri La the following day. Immigration clearance was quite fast, and we had a young tour guide, Jackson waiting for us at the arrival hall. Jackson was the same guide when Hj Khailani and his wife visited Kunming in 2010. Hj Khailani quipped that Jackson still sport the same needle-like hair style. 

We first checked in to the hotel, had a brief rest and Jackson brought us for a quick visit of a tourist spot (what else) before the sun sets. The place is called TRUMP COFFEE and we were supposed to visit some flower shops. I don't suppose it belongs to Donal Trump! Judging from the several tourist buses in the car park, it was obviously a must-visit location for tourists. 

As we entered, the coffee aroma was indeed strong. Momentarily, you forgot about the flowers. Everything coffee was on sale - coffee of different brands and packing, coffee biscuits, coffee sweets, etc etc. To move forward, one must pass through ALL the stalls selling all the coffee merchandises. The narrow pathway was cleverly arranged. Manpower or rather womanpower were not an issue in China. So, the salesgirls were at every nook and corner, pampering us to sample the product and buy them. 

Having survived the coffee, we came to the flower section. Ah, finally. Again, everything flower was there. If you are planning a wedding, this is certainly the place to get flowers - yang hidup atau yang mati. But, please don't forget to add the cost of the flight to Kunming.

Mushroom so big and hard, in abundance
I can't help but questioned the abundance of huge black mushrooms for sale. If I speak a splatter of Mandarin, I could perhaps ask the ever smiling salesgirls. But my "Ni how ma" cannot get me very far. So, I hoped these are not "manufactured" mushrooms, just like the manufactured eggs sold in Penang recently!

Did we buy anything? Yes, coffee crackers and some tiny winy souvenirs. You know, ladies can't leave a shop empty-handed! Anyway, my wife is usually a very careful spender...hint...hint..

Back at the hotel, we were greeted by a wedding reception at the hotel entrance. This is something different. Both the bride and bridegroom were there, together with the parents greeting their guests. So, how about our "Raja Sehari" doing the same act?

Beautiful couple aren't they?
We took photos with them and they were very happy to oblige these foreigners to share their happy occasion. There were also kacangs, cigarettes, kuachi and other tid-bits offered for guests.

Hours later, after the wedding, I am sure they will be scooted off in this stretched limousine for their honeymoon. They could actually honeymoon in the stretched limo!

We wished the couple a "Happy Wedding until children and grandchildren"

The stretched limousine 
We had nothing else to do and look forward to a sumptuous dinner. Meantime, before stepping in the lobby, Hj Khailani has to pose with this bus - Kunming welcomes Cyclists. And here we are!

Tomorrow, we leave for Shangri La.


Anonymous said...

Hello Uncle,

I stumbled upon your blog by chance and I cant help but tell you I am so impressed with your perfect English! I don't mean to be discriminatory but you, being a Malay man, I'm sure English is not your first language. If only, there are more malays who can express themselves as well as you do. I believe this is due to the better education system you received in your hey days too. My wish for Malaysia seems to be dim. Anyway, I enjoy your blog & keep it up! :)

ARZ said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for the compliment to a senior citizen. You are Malaysian too, aren't you? We were, as you duly noted, educated in English. Hence a stronger command of the language. Our generation though is equally good in Bahasa.

AL said...

Salam ARZ,

I too stumbled on your blog as I was surfing the net for some information on travelling in South China.

Was wondering if you did indeed visit Lexiaguo. I'm planning a trip there soon, and would love to hear the views of other travellers. I read that it's not an easy trip to be done independently! But I'm up for the challenge, so here I am gathering as much info as I can.

Look forward to hearing from you! Enjoyed reading about your travels by the way!

ARZ said...

Hi AL,

Yes we did visit Lexiaguo. The timing was wrong though. The farmers were just planting the various plants that would bring out the hues of colors. So all we saw was red earth!
I believe the middle of the year is the right season to visit. My fellow traveller Hj Khailani went during the right season a year earlier.
Do check out the numerous articles in the net for the right season to go.
Our trip was arranged through a travel agent, convenient but of-course with a price to pay since it was a private tour.
There are buses going to Lexiaguo and with your adventurous blood, it will certainly be interesting. If you are a Muslim, there are halal restaurants there too.
It is wise to spend at least a night there, for you to travel the valleys and hills in Lexiaguo. If you can rent a motorbike, you will certainly see much more.
Cycling would be too demanding because of the steep terrains.

All the best and thanks for the compliment. I have not been updating my blog as I do have a few more segments on the China trip yet to be uploaded.

AL said...

Thank you for generously sharing those info, ARZ. They certainly help.

I will be going end of December. Don't know if that's the right season or not, but from what I've read, it doesn't sound so bad, so here's hoping.

The plan is to stay around Dongchuan/Lexiaguo for 2 nights. And since the tours offered are a little too steep for my pockets, I will be travelling independently. I will be packing some food in case there's shortage of halal food, but good to know that I have options there.

Thanks again ARZ, and looking forward to the adventure more than ever, God willing!

ARZ said...

Hi AL,

I admire your venturing spirit. You sound as if you are going alone. There's certain advantage in doing it alone. I sometimes go for solo cycling tours too. Sorry for rather late response. Khailani and I had just returned from a week of cycling tour from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.

I guess 2 days in the Dongchuan valley would accord you the opportunity to see much more than I did. I would love to see what you capture in December. I guess you are seasoned for cold weather. I adapt badly to it.

All the best and I do hope to hear your tales too. Do you blog your travels? If you do, appreciate the link.