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Getting away: Black Dragon Pool

By in Travel on

Black Dragon Pool Park often gets mentioned alongside Kunming tourism heavyweights like Stone Forest, Bamboo Temple and the Western Hills—but often at the end of the list and without much accompanying detail.

We were feeling in need of some sunshine and fresh air on a recent afternoon and decided to find out why the park is often mentioned but rarely talked about.

What we found, after an almost 40 yuan cab from the Green Lake area and some 20 yuan-per-head entry tickets, was a typical Chinese park that nevertheless contained a few interesting sights and made for some good walking.

The park's best features are its spaciousness and abundance of trees and shrubs, including an adjacent unlandscaped forest that is crisscrossed with walking paths.

Eager to stretch our legs, we walked past the Daoist temple complex next to the park's main gate and toward the large hill rising in front and to the right of us, stopping only to examine a large map of dubious navigational value.

We passed a few small pools on the way, one of which had a young couple taking wedding photos in front of it. Just past the pools was a small amusement park, none of the rides operating.

After climbing through a landscape of shrubbery and plum trees that must be very picturesque in spring when the plum blossoms are out, we entered the forest on the park's edge.

We explored various trails and managed to accidentally exit and re-enter the park twice. Along the way we came across a five-story hilltop fire tower that would have provided great views of Kunming, were it not closed to the public.

After re-entering Black Dragon Pool Park the second time we decided to head back to where we had started. We went back to the Daoist temples near to the main gate, behind which we stumbled upon the pool for which the park is named.

Black Dragon Pool (黑龙潭) is the name for a series of pools that, in turn, each has its own name. They are fed by a mountain spring that bubbles from the ground seven meters below the surface of the central Qingshui Pool (清水潭). The water in Qingshui Pool would be perfect for a dip, minus its occupants—hundreds of brightly colored carp. The fish tend to hang around in a roiling mass in the part of the pool where visitors drop in fish food bought from a nearby vendor.

After several minutes of watching the fish feeding frenzy, we wandered through the temple compound. The small courtyards, round doorways, fragrant incense, lush vegetation and general tranquility—minus the sound of majiang tiles being shuffled —created a pleasant environment that felt far removed from the noisy city. Perhaps this is why Black Dragon Pool Park keeps getting mentioned among Kunming's top sights.

Getting there: Black Dragon Pool Park can be reached by the 9, 79 and 128 bus routes for one yuan. A cab to the park from the city center will run around 40 to 50 yuan. To get there by bicycle, just take Longquan Lu (龙泉路) north until it ends and follow the bilingual signs, which will send you one kilometer east.

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The 115 bus, pick it up outside the Normal University on Jian She Lu, will also get you there. We went there in spring and thought it was lovely/

according to www.kmbus.com.cn/ the 115 gets you to ciba 茨坝 via longquan lu 龙泉路, so there's a bit of walking to add on at the end to get to the park gate. there might be other buses to ciba that get the job done the same way.

Catch bus #9 at Xiao Cai Yuan (the cloverleaf north of Yun Da) and it will terminate at Hei Long Tan. Alternatively, catch bus #84 going north, from in front of the Normal University. Ride it to Shang Zhuang bus stop, then cross the road and catch bus #79 going north. Bus #79 terminates at Nong Da, but it will stop at Hei Long Tan (the Horticultural Garden, too).

Of course, you can mix and match: catch #84 from its beginning in the Pedestrian Mall down town, then switch to #9 at the Xiao Cai Yuan stop.

I'm told that there is a good vegetarian restaurant at Hei Long Tan as well.

Lester Ness

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