Hi there, we are trying to start a makerspace here known as "The Cave" and have a large site in mind but need some more financial commitment from people to get it going.
You can see the space on our website at cave.pratyeka.org/
We estimate overall startup costs to be 70,000CNY and have raised 35,000CNY in pledged funds already.
We aim to make up the difference and commit to the space circa Chinese New Year 2016.
Relative to your description:
(a) It's not going to be liveable
(b) It's not going to be focused at all on commercial sales of art or anything else for that matter
(c) It's an industrial space with industrial power (3-phase power OK, chemical smells OK, noise OK, no neighbours to whinge)
Real estate agents are pretty useless for this sort of thing, we've found it's necessary to physically trapse about and search.
If you really only want a small commercial space then you may find some in the existing art districts as AlexKMG suggested... however they will not have the space, community, equipment and industrial zoning benefits that the Cave could offer.
Personally I would recommend trying something different like the relaxing overnight trip down the Mekong from Guanlei in Xishuangbanna by cargo boat.
It's quite comfy, an unforgettable trip, and an animal definitely won't be an issue.
Driving is frought with hassle compared to such an approach: licenses, multiple border crossings and requisite visas/paperwork (in to Laos, in to Thailand instead of just China->Thailand).
Maybe you could consider hiring someone local to drive you down to Xishuangbanna (Guanlei) and help you negotiate a boat fare.
Alternatively, it's definitely possible to get there by public transport, if your luggage is not super-enormous. First of all get to Kunming's southern bus terminal (at Luosiwan, on the metro). Then buy a ticket to Jinghong. Spend a relaxing day in Jinghong, then bus to Guanlei early the next day and negotiate a cargo boat fare to leave the same afternoon.
There was a huge traffic pile-up on Xichang Lu this morning. I saw some people walking around covered in blood with head wounds, torn and ripped clothing, etc. Fire engines and SWAT teams were deployed. It looked a lot like it was due to a gas explosion in a restaurant, about four or five doors south of the Kunshi Lu intersection. If you are going anyway, maybe best to avoid the area... traffic is very bad.
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@nailer is being unfairly dismissed: they are certainly fallible. At one point they were well managed and the only game in town, and their outdoor bar had an interesting social vibe. Recently, none of these is the case (was given a bad bill to the tune of ~300% - no managers present and a subsequent complaint resulted in a less than ideal outcome, many more places are now open, and the outdoor bar is closed). Unless you are specifically seeking faux-Americana (often far better examples elsewhere) or two degrees removed faux-Mexicana, there's little reason to go there. How come French Cafe can serve a great sandwich for 24元 but Sals requires 50元 for a pretend-exoticized nibble? Certainly the business will continue, but the hey-dey is clearly gone. Romaniticizing the past aint gonna help. E-waste recycling by shipping (non carbon neutral) junk across the country? Puh-lease. Garbage processing people here recycle anyway! I applaud the ethical stance of one of the managers, but the place has frankly lost its mojo.
Hands down the best draft craft beer in Kunming. On top of that, very reasonable prices for food and other drinks (especially wine).
Called the number provided on a Friday at 2:15PM while a 10% discount was advertised "on Friday and Saturday" (listed in GoKunming specials).
A Chinese person answered the 'English' phone number in Mandarin then explained in broken English that you need to order 3 hours in advance. (Subtext: As their business is so slow)
Grumble. False advertising. Waste of time. Seems 100% Chinese run. Probably bad pizza.
The listing here is wrong! Teresa's are not defunct, they are just back to being one store instead of two stores on Wenlinjie now! They are still in business, still answer on this phone number, and are still delivering! Points for consistency, it's been years! As of right now, it's 68元 for the more toppings vegetarian at the largest size. They will do thin or thick crust. Yes, it's not to everyone's taste, but I always used to find adding dried chilli powder and some extra salt brought it up to tasty. Might go for a dash of Sichuan pepper oil to spice it up this time around. (You know you've been in China too long when...)
I also had a bad experience here recently.
Honestly, I wish them the best of luck, but I do think the staff are poorly managed and the owners have the wrong attitude and a clear lack of experience in service-oriented business. While the pizza is OK, everything else I have tried (including overnight stay) can be had cheaper and better elsewhere, and the pizza at Roccos is better in my opinion. The service has always fluctuated between acceptable to don't care.
Since they don't have their situation resolved yet, and it has been a few years, I have made the decision not to go there anymore or send anyone else. It's just not worth the hassle, given the crappy location (masked as private or lost). Better pizza with more quiet and privacy on Roccos' terraces.