Posts tagged ‘Kunming’

39 hours of busses and train

A very long journey awaited me. I had enough for a bus ticket to Kunming after changing what was left of my Baht. The bus was a sleeper (with beds) and left Lijiang at 8:30pm. I was in Kunming’s bus station before sunset, where the bus had stopped and let the sleeping passengers doze until 6am. From 6 to 8 I slept on the chairs in the bus station, amidst lots and lots of unventilated cigarette smoke. I then went to eat breakfast at this place near the station that serves a thali set of Chinese food for 6 Yuan. By 8:45 I was on the bus on my way to Rachel’s workplace to collect my card.

At her office I distracted her a bit as I tried to activate my new card. I couldn’t do it because I didn’t know the account # but my cousin was finally able to do it for me in New York. I walked away very cheerful and almost applauded the machine when it presented me with all those Yuan!

Afterwards I went to the train station, intending to buy a ticket for later in the afternoon for the 24+ hour journey to Guangzhou (the city I originally flew in to from Bangkok). I had been trying to buy an air ticket instead but without success. The prices when I first started looking were less than twice of the price of the train ticket which was very good and reasonable, but the site requires immense verification for foreign credit card purchases, so despite sending them copies of my passport, credit card (from & back) and signature I didn’t make the cut and they cancelled my tickets. What I couldn’t provide them was my signature on the document they wanted me to sign because I didn’t know where to print it out and re-scan or fax it. It was all too much hassle, especially with the time constraints because it was evening already when I was trying to book these tickets and was leaving to the Gorge the next morning. And since they don’t guarantee prices until confirmed it made less economic sense to buy later.



June 17, 2009 at 9:54 am 1 comment

Kunming to Dali

I arrived in Kunming early enough, although what time it was exactly I didn’t know because my watch broke 4 months ago. I had thorough instructions in my notebook on how to get to my host’s house and I was looking forward to an easy 20 minute journey.

But no one could tell me where to find the bus or the street I needed. Stopping pedestrians, policemen and bus station employees and pointing at my map got me no where. For the first time in my travels I felt the absurdity of being a foreigner who cannot speak the language. Which way was I to go when the individuals trying to help me told me to go one way and (15 seconds later when I pointed to my map again to confirm) told me to go in the opposite direction with the same confident enthusiasm?

The easiest thing would have been to take a taxi of course, but I hardly had any Yuan and no idea when I’d have more. After an hour of bus chasing I finally did take a taxi, only to have the charlatan take me back to where my predicament had begun.

There are two train stations in Kunming. I had arrived somewhere close to the southern one and my host lives near the northern one. I had shown my map to the driver and pointed to the word “north” — but no matter, he still drove me south.

A bull statue in the southern train station. Notice his penis?


June 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm Leave a comment

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