Date registered: February 15, 2012
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Up the mountain from Baoxing temple, there are a couple of dusty, eerie and seemlingy abandoned temples that might be worthwile if you fancy climbing the steep stairs and aren't afraid of the monkeys that will harass you on the way. On the mountaintop is a temple I think was called Jiding si, which was mysteriously open when I got there, but without a soul to be seen. It's old, empty and not very interesting, but if you love temples like I do it's worth it because of the odd and ghostly mood.
We saw most of the area in a day without car or guide. Me and my sister joined some chinese hikers, set off by foot from Shaxi and trough a beautiful and peaceful dry valley with ancient rock carvings that eventually led to Shizhong temple. After this we walked along the concrete road to Baoxing temple, and then up the mountain to the abandoned ones. After that it was getting late and we were very hungry, not having had lunch, so we quickly walked down and continuted along the main road; here I assume we passed Haiyun temple but probably missed it because it was past closing time then. We got out trough the main gate and, finding ourselves much farther from Shaxi than we would have been at Shizhong temple, flagged down a passing bus to get back.
I've tried this recipe now, and I can definitely vouch for it. The taste was very savory and nice; I used the fish mint but not the sawtooth herb. However, it wasn't nearly as ultra-über-mega-spicy as I'm used to from the Dai restaurants in Kunming, and I'll have to experiment a bit so I can achieve that.
Thank you, you just saved my life, I had no idea how to survive back in Europe without this dish :D
Hoping on a plane costs a lot of money and trouble, that's not something all of us can or want to afford. That being said, you have a point of course, most people don't leave Kunming that often, but even Kunming itself benefits from being in Yunnan, seeing as it has great weather and very nice surroundings; you can easily get a little bit of nature without even having to travel to another city, just get out in the mountains. In terms of amazing 'getting away'-opportunities, even if just for a day, Kunming has every other major chinese city beaten hands down, perhaps except Xining, Ürümqi and Lanzhou, and it seems to me few laowai wants to live in those three anyhow. For me, coming from a european city with extremely boring natural surroundings, this is a very big issue, as living in Kunming completely re-ignited a passion for the outdoors that I can never pursue in my hometown. (And then, sure, say Dali would be even better in this regard, but we're talking about major chinese cities only here).
I personally also think Kunming has a very nice cuisine, as I really enjoy yunnanese food, but I know the 'food in Kunming'-question is a sensitive issue on this site, so I'm not gonna push that one.
There is of course a MAJOR advantage of choosing Kunming over any eastern cities, and this advantage will remain no matter how polluted, congested, backwoods or whatever you might consider Kunming: Kunming is in -Yunnan-.
鬼鸡 ('Ghost chicken') is an amazing dish that never disappoints, you can find a recipe for it here on gokunming. But it's 鬼火怒 ('Fireghost fury') that truly separates the vikings from the wimps. Any Dai fish dish is also generally a treat; the ones that are dry, cut open and spread out are much easier to eat than the ones that are cooked in a pot with sauce, as there's a loooot of bone on those. Occasionally you can also find a kind of dry sausage that's very tasty and sooo savory, but it's more common in Wa cuisine I believe. They have this sausage in the some-southern-Yunnan-city-I-have-forgotten-the-name-of-restaurant on the same road as Slice of Heaven, but closer to the intersection with Xuefu lu.
This is the best value for the money Dai restaurant that I've found in Kunming, it's amazingly cheap and absolutely delicious: kunmingsshabbiest.blog.se/[...]
It's an a back alley in the 麻园 area, down some winding alleys to your right if you're facing the gate to the old art college, and have old Laowo bar in your back to the left.
Any place remotely close to Kunming will be crowded in Golden Week, unless it's super-mega obscure. Dali, Lijiang, Jiangshui, Shibaoshan, Shaxi, Jizushan; forget about it.
Nujiang valley is your best bet; Bingzhongluo will still have available rooms if you arrive early/book ahead, as will the country guesthouses. Luckily, Nujiang valley is also one of the best destinations in all of Yunnan, and possibly the earth. The problem is; it's very remote, it'll take you almost two days to get to Bingzhongluo, even if you bus all the way to Fugong from Kunming.
chinese students seem to love Dona Donuts, one reason is probably that it's one of the cheapest ways around to get wifi. Exchange students seem to love Mazagran, probably because their wifi always works and the place is relatively relaxed.
But my favorite place by far is a café immediately opposite the entrance to the scandinavian art gallery, The Loft. This cafe has functioning wifi and is almost always rather empty, and has a very cosy atmosphere.
The temple itself is interesting, but small; the surrounding exhibitions range from pointless and boring to rather fascinating, but you really need to know chinese or have somebody translating for you to get anything out of it. If you only have limited time in Kunming, skip it and head for the Bamboo Temple instead. Otherwise it's worth a visit.
Sunday, December 22
Christmas Dinner Special: chicken paté or vegetarian tapas, roast chicken, cranberry sauce, gravy, potato and sweet potato mash, vegetables and desserts, all served with spiced hot mulled wine, 6-9pm, 168 yuan/person, call for reservations
Weekly Foosball (doubles) Tournament: winners receive a free bottle of vodka or Amaretto, 9pm, free entry
Steak Night: get a free bottle of French red wine with the purchase of four steaks, 5-9pm
Sunday Brunch: featuring their famous cheeseburgers, avocado smoked chicken wraps and eggs benedict, 20% off on all beers and Bloody Marys, 11am-5pm
Ultimate Frisbee Practice: bring cleats and a disk if you have them, all skill levels welcome, 4:30pm