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2013: The Year in Review, part II

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The end of the year is a special time in which editors and writers around the world recycle content from the previous twelve months and repackage it as new. We at GoKunming are not above this practice, so here's the second installment of our two-part look at the people and events that shaped 2013 in southwest China. If you haven't already read it, part one can be found here.


Bonds...Yunnan bonds...were not treated to martinis but instead downgraded over fears of a possibly impending credit default. Little Tyson dispatched another foe and Brendan Galipeau told us how growing grapes was changing the landscape in the province's far northwest. It was announced Kunming's defunct airport would be transformed into a huge financial complex, presumably one largely free of fog. Speaking of flying, we took to the air and snapped some photos from high above Dali. Wild elephants were once again on the rampage in Jinghong. Governor Li Jiheng (李纪恒) complained loudly about the nastiness of bathrooms and then the rains came and washed everything away.

image: Hugh Bohane
image: Hugh Bohane

While mushrooms went on a deadly rampage in Yuxi, we cooked up some delicious ghosts. Myanmar's president took a trip to London and just couldn't stop talking. Riding aimlessly around town on our bikes inadvertently led us to a tiny museum dedicated to preserving the riveting history of a Spring City educational icon. The rain got worse, much worse, and Kunming took a bath. Between shifts bailing out the water, GoKunming contributors snapped photos of a very soggy city. Damage was assessed and at least the petrochemical business went on as if nothing had ever happened. Dali hosted a huge photo exhibit and tigers, or more specifically a lack of them, had international leaders wringing their hands, and not for the last time.


Beijing tried to control its addiction to shopping, and we wished them the best of luck while quaffing a delicious pint of homebrew after a bike ride. China and the United States somewhat cantankerously discussed how people should be treated. In what is becoming a national obsession, milk powder again made headlines, this time for all the wrong reasons. The king of the numpties got his comeuppance — we wonder who will seize the now-vacant throne. Contributor Lieuwe Montsma looked back at a little-remembered World War II battle for a bridge. One man attempted to save the world's few remaining tigers, Kunming mulled making it easier for day trippers to visit and it came to light that a historically significant cemetery had nearly disappeared. Kunming's subway, as subways around the world tend to do, was running over budget.

Dam fever came to the Himalayas. A goon got his hands on 100,000 one jiao coins and then made strangers count them. Following all the talk of damming Yunnan's great rivers, we sat down and watched a documentary about what those rivers looked like when they were wild and untamed. China's government, for a few days at least, tried to help out those who needed it most. Monkeys were being a pain in the grass and due to a very wet rainy season, mushrooms were popping up all over the place. King coal was in way, way, way over his head. The conversation once again turned to rain which prompted us to visit an area of Guizhou with phenomenal waterfalls. China's ongoing soap opera with Myanmar, in which Yunnan plays the role of caught-in-the-middle child, got more dramatic.


Just as Shangri-la was shaken by a sizable earthquake, the PRC unleashed two new laws. The first required phone and internet users to show ID, while the second was a vague and cumbersome mess that left many foreign guests confused and angered. Yi Zhaungfang explained the economic, cultural and ecological effects of monocultures and Adam Crase took us all on an extensive tour of the Stone Forest. Something was very, very crooked in Yunnan. Kunming blew up a palace and the fattening of the Middle Kingdom continued unabated. Our journey to a local museum proved very enlightening regarding those rarest of Yunnan animals, the Flying Tigers.

It appeared a long-term problem might have worked itself out, but the government remained skeptical. A Frenchman started digging a hole in the middle of nowhere and was joined by all sorts of helpers. Efforts were yet again made to solve the Spring City's ongoing taxi imbroglio but it didn't seem to do much good. The cost of raising a child in Kunming was quantified...well kind of. We spoke with an artist obsessed with China's growing junk piles and then poked fun at what sometimes passes for news. That loud flushing noise? Why, that's the sound of progress. We used our time in the bathroom to read a new book about Yunnan's place in the world.


The amazing array of fossils buried in the dirt of Yunnan continued to amaze. Beijing assessed the quality of Dianchi Lake water and concluded it was pretty much gross. While Kunming rocked out, Matthew Hartzell hopped on his bike and found a great place to stay for the night. The bi-annual insanity that convulses China during its two Golden Weeks was questioned. Not properly satisfied, the Spring city rocked out again. Bribery was in the air and so were the smells emanating from a fantastic botanical garden. The graying of Yunnan made some government planners nervous but luckily the dumplings were good enough soothe the soul. Netizens, quite rightly it seemed, called for the head of a reprehensible human being.

Despite torrid dam-building, and a resultant surplus in hydropower, Yunnan was failing to capitalize on its opportunities. Mountains aside, we found what is perhaps the best place to find good views of the city. It was determined a high-speed railway to Shanghai will have to wait. Unsavory elements were running amok all over China and kids with too much money were driving like hell around the Spring City. China and India talked turkey. A trip down south resulted in a good time and some very nice photos by by Benjamin Campbell. The province's eponymous medicine showed its resiliency after having a rough tie of it. Jeff Fuchs shared some amazing portraits he has collected during years traveling what remains of the Tea Horse Road. Drugs were causing headaches and the price of justice was apparently a life of anonymity.


Malaria was reportedly experiencing an unfortunate resurgence. Meanwhile, a university in Yuxi was hoping to catalogue and preserve the many minority languages endemic to Yunnan. We had seaweed soup for dinner and then sat down to a discussion of how the world's species should be indexed and inventoried. The Hani geared up for their epic feast and an aggrieved man attempted to carry the body of his dead father more than 2,000 kilometers home. Sander Van de Moortel and friends went on a pretty extensive hike of their own, wandering in the woods around the Dulong River. China and Myanmar tried to play nice. We got our groove on, exploring Kunming's burgeoning B-boy scene.

Heading home from the fields
Heading home from the fields

A former labor camp in Xishuangbanna was thought to hold the key to reform and two friends from the United States thought cycling around the world for two years would eventually land them jobs. A publicity stunt in Shanghai raised hope in Kunming. An endangered monkey was saved. The residents of Kunming got together to Help Out those whose lives were turned upside down by a typhoon. While we took a trip to an old town looking to preserve its cultural roots, someone decided to feed wild elephants in southern Yunnan's Pu'er. Selling stuff on the street may have been made more difficult in certain parts of Kunming and hiking to the edge of Tibet remained slightly difficult.

Temple guardians Ha (left) and Heng (right) at the entrance of Haiyun Temple
Temple guardians Ha (left) and Heng (right) at the entrance of Haiyun Temple


In a story that does not bode well for travelers flying into Kunming, the airport, yes the new expensive one, was closed down by fog — not once, not twice, but thrice in December. The Kunming rugby team invited some friends over and Beijing was hoping to rescue dozens of failing cities. Cambodia tuned in to Chinese TV and all was merry at the fair. Yunnan has scores of amazing archaeological treasures, but perhaps none of them rival its Stone Treasure. We encouraged our readers to speak up and they in turn asked why the city's largest waterway was a mucky, murky mess. Airport issues aside, airlines were scrambling to add Kunming to their lists of destinations. Apes were recording music and then performing publicly for your entertainment. Are you not entertained?

GoKunming users once again had their say, this year with twist. The surf was up, and Hugh Bohane traveled south to find the best breaks. China landed on the freakin' moon, with Yunnan scientists playing a small but integral part. Flooding earlier in 2013 apparently wasn't enough of a meteorological oddity and Kunming was greeted by winter with a rare snowfall. It became easier to join tour groups and sipping just-picked tea couldn't have been a more delicious experience. Fortune did not favor those with fortunes. Jus before climbing a mountain teaming with lions we checked out a local bread-making tradition that had us up and out of bed before the crack of dawn. A fire burned near Dali before helicopters were called in. We began our look back on the year that was before announcing the best of the best the Spring City had to offer.

Thanks to the dozens of people who made 2013 a special year at GoKunming. And, as always, thank you to our readers. Without your input, the site, and the Spring City, just wouldn't be the same. We wish everyone a happy, healthy and exciting 2014!

Top image: Wonders of Yunnan

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Mmm, fluff posts.

It was a fluff year! Ha..ha.

Just got around to reading this. A lot of work last year. Keep it up!

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