Welcome Back to Kunming
We took the overnight train (K9620) from Dali to Kunming, leaving Dali at just turned 10pm and arriving in Kunming at a time of day my body doesn’t really believe exists.
The train was fine, straight on the train and to bed. Previous experience had told us the lights usually go out around 10pm on overnight trains in China. We met a Chinese guy who spoke good English and had a chat with him about his travels around Asia and Europe. Then it was lights out and to sleep.
The train arrived late, almost 6am, but that doesn’t stop the conductor waking everyone up at as if the train was on time. Annoying, I could have had another 20 mins in bed.
The Hump Hostel isn’t far from the train station but buses are annoying with large rucksacks (plus we didn’t see many at that time) and the taxi is only 12 Yuan (£1.20), so we headed for the taxi rank. Well, the taxi drivers loved the sight of two English backpackers arriving at that time of day and immediately pounced. Offers were flying in from all directions; because the majority of Chinese people don’t speak English they use their fingers to show the price, the number of fingers is often the number of tens, so Annemarie was thinking they were haggling and undercutting each other, offering taxi ride for 4 Yuan. Oh no, 40 Yuan was the price they were asking, one guy offered his taxi for a whopping 100 Yuan. Once we realised that we told them where to stick their taxis and got out.
On the street was no better. We flagged down three taxis, told them where we wanted to go and then requested the meter was turned on. All gave a dismissive wave of the hand and drove off. So we walked to the hostel, about a 40 minute walk.
That set my mood for the morning. The roads were almost empty and there are only two roads to take to get from the station to the hostel, in a taxi that would have been 5 minutes each way. But none of the drivers thought it was worth their while to get a little cash on a quick drop off. The law should force the use of meters (it might already and most break the law).
Walking down the road was fun. Street lights are few and far between and the main road in undergoing a huge resurfacing. The path is also been relaid, but that isn’t complete meaning there were huge holes in the pavement which you have to avoid, in other places the pavement is a dumping ground for the workers and you have to walk on the road.
Walking on the road is a dangerous activity anywhere but especially so in China. Electric mopeds are the main mode of transport in Kunming. Because they are electric the mopeds can easily sneak up behind you in silence. But the real danger is because everyone seems to pretend the mopeds are a bicycle. So headlights are optional, as are high visibility clothing and helmets. The path is fair game, as is going the wrong way down the road! This makes crossing the road, even when there is a green man a dangerous experience. The mopeds come from all directions in silence, cars turning right have priority and just drive and red traffic lights are also considered optional. (I came within a foot of a moped in the middle of the road whilst crossing and the guy didn’t even flinch when I shouted at him as he sped past.)
So now I’m in a bad mood. China is a police state! I had to show our passports to buy train tickets. I then had to show then again just to enter the train station. My ticket contains my passport number so I can’t give someone my ticket. Yet all these laws which should make society fairer and safer are ignored. China is really starting to make me angry with these double standards about which laws are upheld and which can be ignored.
We finally arrived at the hostel to find they don’t open the doors until 7am. I checked for the WiFi and found it, but my phone wouldn’t connect. When the hostel finally opened and we got in we asked about the WiFi only to find that it wasn’t working properly (users can’t authenticate).
On top of that Kunming has nothing in the city, it’s cold, cloudy and grey.
Bed time to catch up after been awake so early.
Oh and Annemarie has just informed me of all the taxi scams in Vietnam. Extortionate prices, no meters, driving without the meter and then negotiating a price away from other taxis, driving off with your bags, dumping your bag on the pavement to distract you in order to steal your other belongings. What fun!
Posted from Kunming, Yunnan, China.