User profile: michael2015

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Forums > Travel Yunnan > Road from Lijiang to Shangrila

Wish gokunming would do a travel piece on this new rail and the fun and interesting things to see and do outside those 13 stations.

That's essentially 13 potential round trip rail trips from Lijiang (not to mention KM to LJ). Might be able to get China Rail to cough up some funds along with the Yunnan Tourism and Travel promotion agencies (dunno their real names, but I'm sure there are MANY MANY MANY government agencies tasked with improving or increasing tourism who have no idea where and how to spend those funds).

The high altitude locations would be perfect for development of hot spring type tourist attractions as starters. Private bathing, private luxury boutique rooms (with your own private hot spring-ish bath), sensational views, local cuisine.

The absolute great thing about China is the planned economy - with government support - virtually any business can actually have a sustainable business case (gov promotions, ads, etc until the venue becomes self-sustaining).

Forums > Travel Yunnan > Any Recent Passport Renewal Experience?

In theory - you can have a designated agent or surrogate pick up your passport and send it to you. You'll have to check with your embassy AND your consulates for the latest rules, regulations, procedures, and of course, documentation.

Forums > Living in Kunming > RDP from China

RDP et al protocols and ports generally work - however during major government meetings usually centered around the five year plans and their annual update meetings - china's internet is frequently throttled, to include amazingly even pounding the usually reliable VPNs.

Across different provinces and locations - it's hit or miss - for example China Telecom might be wide open, but Unicom and China Mobile networks might be unable to connect.

So, your best solution is still to have a reliable VPN as a backup solution, should your various mail security protocols be spontaneously blocked.

Forums > Living in Kunming > Advice please

1. Contracts in Asia are rather vaguely interpreted, so there's a certain amount of leverage expected, especially for smaller firms. If they can coerce or bully you into free labor, they'll absolutely do it. It's an indicator of management culture and behavior. If you don't like it - go into overdrive to seek alternatives. Think of it as an abusive relationship - go seek alternative love in your spare time.

2. Regular and forced or coerced uncompensated overtime is called slavery. It's illegal in China, despite Alibaba and Tencent's much maligned 996 (9am-9pm 6 days a week) work ethic which was later criticized by the government and has since been publicly recanted. Slavery is not tolerated in China.

3. Withholding your income is illegal in China. You can report the company to the Kunming Municipal Labor Relations Board (KMLRB). Since your company threatened you, you may be courteous and respond in kind. Do NOT do this until you have a contract with your next employer, to jump seamlessly. Your threat is much more terrifying than theirs. Once you formally report your income has been illegally withheld - the LRB will initiate an arbitration meeting between you and the company's legal leaders, owners, or officers and arbitrate a settlement as per the rules and laws of China. USUALLY, but not always, these kinds of meetings are recorded on video and a government arbitration contract is drawn up upon completion of the negotiation and both parties are "invited" to execute (sign) and thumbprint the document. If arbitration fails - you'll need to go legal. This kind of publicity is very damaging to a company's reputation, so unlike Amber Heard, you should be very very cautious in publicly denouncing employers. The company is also forbidden from slandering or bullying you, should they discover your next employer or even the visa office.

4. The initially happy relationship between you and your employers is obviously soured. Look for alternatives. Based on their behavior, they'll try to threaten you with breach of contract, deportation, etc - but if they withhold your income, they breached first - labor relations board. However, never never ever jump unless you have a definite secondary AND tertiary (3rd) landing site. Every rabbit always has three escape routes (ancient abridged chinese proverb that I just made up).

You may also contact the Yingke Law Firm that advertises on this site, if things become caustic or toxic. Their two primary English speaking legal representatives have excellent English (not perfect, but good enough to grasp the issue) and have an excellent grasp of Chinese law.

[Shameless YingKe Law Firm plug]

I used YingKe for a personal property transaction a few years ago. They were eminently professional, well organized, meticulous, and babysat me through the entire somewhat complicated process until it was done - flawless - happy happy happy. They of course charged a nominal premium for bilingual services - but the fee was acceptable and NOT onerous NOR stratospheric - especially as they accomplished what they promised in a timely, professional, and most importantly, 100% successful and complete manner - the FIRST time through the process. This was also the first time they'd done this kind of transaction - but they researched it well, talked to all the appropriate government offices and officials, and got it done. Did I mention happy happy happy, not to mention impressed.


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I was thinking that gokm could maybe get the Kunming Tourism Dept and the KM Metro et al to pay for a professionally illustrated bilingual PDF map and maybe start a series of web articles and videos on things to do and see (and eat) at each station - aside from the major tourism venues.

NHK (Japan) did this about 20 years ago - very popular and interesting series - inspires people to get out, socialize (when it's safe) and support local businesses...or not.

The referenced map was an ANCIENT planning map...hence the hint hint hint hint to the gokm staff - when they have budget and absolutely nothing better to do with their time...

Yereth's map is great as a geographic index - but most high density subway maps (Beijing, Tokyo) go for the symbolic stations shown in the ancient picture I referenced. These things are great as either screensavers, desktop wallpapers, or mobile phone pictures (screensavers, wallpapers) for those who commute within the bellies of these steel dragons.

I used to carry around subway maps on small plastic cards (doubled as my prepaid card) when exploring these cities. Each station had uniquely popular venues for both tourists and long-term locals alike (popular eateries, shopping boutiques, etc).



Took the family here to stroll around and there's a LOT of walking. Many of the stores appear closed, but the bar street nestled inside seems quite well populated.

We chose the Japanese restaurant near the entrance (there are many entrances). The food and service was quite acceptable - from the fruit salad, tuna salad, curry pork cutlet, and the ubiquitous California Sush Rolls (you can buy the small size or the large size).

It rained a little while we were there, which helped drench the heat and humidity. When the sun came out - it was HOT.

If you're lucky, you'll occasionally see people (usually women) wearing minority clothing being photographed by professional photographers. There's also a small photographer's store where you can rent various ethnic clothing and have professional pictures taken (maybe the two are that I think about it).

There's also the ubiquitous game centers (shooting galleries etc) for the kids and unaccompanied teenagers.

It seems the most popular venues were the prolific food courts - but that's probably related to it being lunchtime when we visited. The place is clean and plenty of antiqued door fronts (the wood panels) for those photo shoots.

Capping off the visit, one must of course take pictures on the bridges crossing the lily ponds and the landmark temple spire. We didn't make it to the surrounding temples. Maybe next time.

Transportation is everywhere - but make sure you have your mobile phone ride share app working, just in case you hit rush hour.

Again - for now - it seems many vendors were closed - but I'm positive that'll change again as the economy begins to rebound.

Excellent way to spend a half day as opposed to the kids faces glued to their mobile devices...fresh air, good food, plenty of people watching, and walking...walking...walking...


Took the family here a few days ago. Wonderful place to go walking with lots of snack & drink kiosks (along with chairs and tables) to rest frequently. This zoo is similar to most other large open air zoos with reasonably spacious enclosures. This place is HUGE so be prepared for a LOT of walking. Consider wearing sensible hiking or walking shoes. Your feet will be grateful.

Entrance fees when we went still cny100 for adults and kids cny70. Feeding the animals at the managed venues - cny30 per site...per child. Monkeys can be fed by tossing carrots and sliced apples into their enclosure - which is good. Monkeys famous for flash mobbing. Can be terrifying for kids (and adults). Even in the enclosures, you can clearly see they're territorial and aggressive. Bullying is displayed frequently enough for teaching moments for the kids (cuz there are monkeys in all schools everywhere in the world).

MOST people bring their own food and drink, as the kiosks are quite expensive. Example a cny5 drink outside is cny10 in the zoo, so expect most everything to be twice as expensive. I had a bbq chick drumstick (leg?) for cny25...ouch.

Bring carrots. LOTS of carrots. The zoo has several managed (paid) and unmanaged petting areas for most semi-domesticated animals, such as the Alpacas (seriously cute), deer, giraffes ( can feed the giraffes on an elevated platform, but probably difficult to "pat" the animals. It's kind of spectacular to actually see giraffes face to face - these animals are simply vertigo inducing huge and tall.

The seal show was nice - typical of seal shows everywhere. Seals are kind of like the dogs of the sea. Friendly and ravenous appetites so easily trainable.

Lots of cheap touristy souvenirs to buy the for the kiddies (and relatives kids).

HIGHLY recommend taking the bus tour - they basically zoom around picking up and dropping off customers (they check your e-ticket at every pickup site) at entrances and exits to walking enclosures. They'll drop you off at roughly 15 minute walking sites. NO need to rush and you can grab ANY bus upon emerging from the walking enclosure sites.

Of course, the ultimate attraction always the lion and tiger exhibits at the top of the mountain.

Bring a fan. It gets hot. We were fortunate as the sky was mostly overcast so the temperature was generally cool, but heated up almost instantly whenever the sun peeked out of the clouds.

Bring LOTS of water. Most veteran tourists have their own liter bottles of water. Bring your own umbrella. When the sun comes out - it's HOT. Bring a wide brimmed hat if you're into comfort over vanity. SUNTAN LOTION never goes astray.

Aside from that - typical Chinese group site with everyone rushing the buses and ticket counters. Not so much rushing for the food venues, so seems the elevated prices keep that comfortably in check.

All in all - GREAT place to take the kiddies (or a date if you both know you're into each other - cuz you'll be spending an entire day together). The Outdoor Zoo seems exceptionally well designed with plenty of both managed and unmanaged (eg walking deer along the roadside and the stroll through the peacock "garden").

Easy cab or shared ride out and back. Taxis aplenty when you're ready to leave (just walk past the parking lot gate - they'll be waiting for you). You should consider dining out or delivery at the end of the day.


Took the kiddies here again.

1. It's FREE.
2. NO knives, lighters, sharp objects, etc. There's a place in front to check bags, luggage (if you're traveling), etc - but the exit is in the rear of the monolithic building, so it's a bit of a hike to walk back around to the checked storage area (it's also FREE).

We went straight to the third floor - History and artifacts of Yunnan (mostly). Rich history - lots of original sculptures etc removed from grottoes and displayed in the museum. Lots of English language titles and occasionally some explanatory text in English.

This is the evolution floor with lots of petrified artifacts - sea life mostly, lots of recreations of animals and environments from pre-man times.

There are coffee shops and dining areas on the first floor and drink vending machines on the second and third floors. The place is HUGE so a great place to take the kiddies and walk around until they're tired. They'll probably enjoy the dinosaur exhibit on the second floor the most. Wait a few minutes and the dinosaurs will roar and move their heads and maybe pretend to chew (open and close their maws).

PLENTY of parking and unfortunately NOT close to any subway station, so you'll have to grab a cab or rideshare but seems taxis and transportation are aplenty in the city and surrounding environs.'s FREE for now. Museum closes at 5pm so make sure you leave by 430-445 so you can hike back to the storage area if you checked anything in as they also close at 5pm.



This is a great place to walk around and generally kill time while shopping for nothing in particular. Nearby is the Paulaner Brewhouse for super fantastic food, coffee and drinks, outdoor patio dining or just hanging and people watching.



Just popped in for the annual to biennial visa health check. Cost was CNY 487 - don't forget to bring at least THREE (3) visa pictures and your mask.

As usual, there are TWO health codes to display - the usual kunming/yunnan green QR code and the green "Arrow" code.

I went late in the morning, but still managed to shuttle through all the departments and get out before lunch.

I used didi to get there and the map now correctly shows the rear parking entrance as the destination drop-off point. You can also take the subway to a nearby station, and walk walk walk walk walk - it's actually not too far but it will elevate your blood pressure and pulse (BPP) - so make sure to rest 5-10 minutes to allow your BPP to drop back to resting state.

Upon arrival at the main gate, you'll do the usual check-in procedure - mask, sign-in, green QR code, temperature check.

Once inside - Present your passport, green QR code, and green (hopefully) arrow code. Scan the QR codes on your left as you walk in if you don't have these prepared already. The staff will then pass you an application form. Walk over to the wall of stand-up desks to your right, fill out the forms, then stroll over to the clerks to present the form. They'll print out a sheet of bar coded labels for your tests, take your digital picture, attach everything together with a paper clip, then direct you to the cashier to pay CNY 487 (WeChat, alipay, bank card, etc) Don't know if they still accept cash.

Hike up the the 2nd or 3rd floor to start the battery of tests:

3rd floor

Chest X-ray

Physical (height, weight, BMI/body mass index)

2nd floor



Urine test

Blood Test

Eye test (color blindness and eye chart)


Heart (pulse, blood pressure)

I may have missed a few like the OB GYN...

It seems they also have a COVID/NAT (nucleic acid test) center in a shipping container lab outside the health center - but I didn't bother jogging over to check if it was still operational. In retrospect, should've checked, as the hospitals are jam packed with Chinese New Year travelers.

The test results are ready the afternoon of the second day. The facility seems sparsely busy even though they service both foreigners and nationals. There were rarely lines or noticeable waits beyond a few minutes, with at most 1-2 people ahead of you.

Staff are always nice, polite, professional and tirelessly patient for those of us with limited to no communications abilities.