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staying in Kunming for the first time

Virtue_94 (13 posts) • 0

Hi all,

I'm a student from Belgium and for my thesis I will go to Kunming for one month (26aug-26sept), where I will explore the whole city. Since I am vegan and I frequently have to go to the toilet, I have a couple of questions :)

- how are the toilets in Kunming and is it possible to go to the toilet? Are there specific things I have to be aware of?

-Is it possible to pay in supermarkets with a banccard?

- Are there vegan options like tempeh, vegan yoghurt, tofu etc? and are there also things I have to know as a vegan?

- Is there a good transportation in Kunming (bus, bike, metro,taxi,...) and which option is the best to take?

-How should I communicate? Can many people speak English or should I install a translator so I can show it in Chinese?

Thanks in advance for the answers! I have to admit that I'm a bit scared since I'm going alone and I also never have been to China!

Ocean (1121 posts) • +3

Hi Virtue. Welcome to Kunming.
Here are a few answers:

Toilets: there are public toilets but they're often pretty awful. Sometimes you pay a small fee to use them. You're better off using yours at home, or looking for a hotel lobby or MacDonalds etc and using theirs.

Transport: Kunming has all the transport modes you mention. Buses are regular and cheap, but often crowded. Bikes and e-bikes are popular but can be dangerous. Taxis are reasonably priced and I've always found the drivers to be honest (others less so). They can be hard to find at certain times of the day. The subway is cheap and fast but limited to one major North-South line at present. Walking is also possible - the centre of Kunming is really quite compact.

Language: Few local people speak English so you'll need some basic Chinese, or a phrasebook + patience or a translator. The translator doesn't have to be a paid professional - it may just be a Chinese friend you make - many Chinese enjoy spending time with foreigners. This website is a good place to set that up. Ask in Classifieds.

Kunming is pretty safe and easy as far as Chinese cities/towns go. You'll feel less scared a day or two after you arrive.

But veganism will be tough - I'll let others guide you on that one.

Good luck!

Liumingke1234 (3161 posts) • +2

All toilet are now free according to a new directive from the government. If it is not there's a number you can call to report them. They have new toilets that are green with white strips and are kept clean. They are all over the place and hard to miss.

AlexKMG (2353 posts) • +1

Maybe one or two supermarkets can accept a not china issued Visa or MasterCard. But your bank card should be able to withdraw rmb at an ATM, unless your home bank has some security restrictions on international use.

Most vegans give up being vegan for a short time during their stay in China and just become vegetarian, until they can cook for themselves in China. Restaurants just don't care to make sure your dish won't have come in contact with meat egg or lard. If you try to order an egg and vegetable dish without egg, it might still come with egg or maybe no egg bits will show up, but then it was probably cooked in the pot that was just last used to cook fatty pork with preserved mustard greens. But if you can accept becoming just vegetarian during your short stay, then there are vegetarian restaurants.

AlexKMG (2353 posts) • +2

There are still a handful of dirty pay 5jiao toilets in Kunming. Just went to one in a grubby wet market. I decided I'd rather have that toilet exist than report the old aunty that ran it. Some of the new nice toilets that aren't a separate building close at 9pm or earlier, since they'll just lock them up and go home rather than follow posted hours of operation.

marko21 (16 posts) • +2

a lot of those toilet managers actually live in a room/mini home next to the toilet (f*** that)

You wont find a public toilet that are like the ones in Belgium, its a squat toilet, you should google what they look like if you don't know what they are and also practice squatting before you get here so you don't need to touch or hold the walls when you're taking a number 2.

Take tissues with you cause most public toilets don't have toilet paper because certain Chinese people like to take more than what they require then use it at home.

Also Mcdonalds is also a squat toilet, the one on Hong Shan Dong Lu haha I was surprised when I walked in there!

marko21 (16 posts) • +3

We had some vegan Russians come to our place through Airbnb and they say that even if you say you are vegan in some restaurtants or cafeterias they will still add 'a little bit' of meat

Virtue_94 (13 posts) • 0

Thanks for all the replies!! It's a big help!

-I have already read about the dirty toilets, so unfortunately this is true! So I should look for green toilets with white strips, hotels and may be the Mc Donalds, all the rest will be a torture?
The squatting should not be a big problem since I do weighted squats here at home.
@AlexKMG, It's the combination of both! Vegans do have to go more often to the toilet (because of all the fiber! :p ) but I also have to drink a lot, so I also have to pee more :)

-As for the transportation, I will have to see almost entire Kunming, so may be that I will use a combination of the subway and my feet. By the way, why are the bikes more dangerous? Is it because of traffic danger?

- It's a pity to hear that veganism is difficult to adopt in Kunming! I will not make a drama for a eating a bit of milk or egg, but I surely don't want any dead animals on my plate! I will stay at places where I have a fully equiped kitchen, so I think I will go for the homecooking! I will try to be as selfsufficient as possible, so I will not have to be afraid of having some unpleasant experiences!

And now a summary of my thesis: During the last 10 years Kunming has been characterised by a fast urbanisation. Expectations are that due to economic growth the population will double by 2020. This fast growth has a strong influence on the environment but also affects the social and cultural aspects of the society. In this master thesis, the link between urbanisation and land use changes over the past 10 years, will be investigated. Land use change detection will focus on thermal zones, i.e. Local Climate Zones (LCZs). LCZs are a well-known classification scheme in urban climate modelling to assess the thermal impact of the urban environment. This scheme is thus very useful to evaluate the combined effect of land use change and fast urban growth. The combination of these processes has strong implications on the living conditions for the local population which are mostly expressed to rising urban temperatures and increasing air pollution. In this thesis, Kunming will be mapped for its past and current state based on remote sensing data, and land use changes will be assessed quantitatively.

I will still need information about the socio-economic situation of Kunming during the past 10 years. I already have found some about China, but the articles about Kunming are mostly in Chinese, which makes it a bit difficult. If there are people who know more about this topic, that would definitely be a great help! :) But may be I should make a seperate topic about that.

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