When travelling in China I always like to wander round the local area of the city in which I am staying getting a feel of the life of the inhabitants, the shops and cafes and all the activities that make up daily life.

When travelling in China I always like to wander round the local area of the city in which I am staying getting a feel of the life of the inhabitants, the shops and cafes and all the activities that make up daily life.

I was recently in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in the south west of the country, a city booming with construction sites and industrial activity and which enjoys a pleasant climate year round despite its altitude of nearly 2000 metres.

I stayed at the Horizon Hotel in the centre of the city, a very pleasant hotel with friendly staff. From the hotel I spent a couple of hours walking around the vicinity.  The street outside the hotel Qingnian Rd is wide with a lane especially for cyclists of which, contrary to many modern Chines cities, there are many.  There are even some double decker buses and on the corner a large ‘sculpture’ looking like a dinosaur.

Initially I walk along a wide street Dongfeng Rd lined with larger shops including some name retailers selling goods especially clothes you would see in many international cities.  After about a kilometre it became more local although there is a large French owned Carrefour supermarket. However most of the stores are small, cafes and food shops, flower stalls and a range of miscellaneous businesses.  Shoe shining is a particular local industry and there are many ad hoc stalls selling clothes, shoes and other items of apparel..

The Yunnan Provincial Museum is located along this street, a large, ornate building which is well worth a visit to see some of the 50,000 items in its collection.  The Yunnan Historical Objects Exhibition has strong regional characteristics; using a diversity of excavated objects, the exhibition displays the face of ancient Yunnan. Many of the objects in this exhibition have important scientific and artistic value, and provide material evidence of mankind’s social development.

In side streets there are more traditional buildings including one which looked about a century old that is now housing as restaurant. Other shops are selling spices and medicines, carvings and furniture and a miscellany of objects.

Next door is a small park where older members of the local community are engaged in tai chi either in groups or alone.  It looks very relaxing.

Further down I came across a large barbers shop – I had seen a few hairdressers.  I have a shaved head and beard and after some sign language negotiation I was able to arrange a relaxing head shave by a lady barber, lots of hot towels and a cut throat razor, all for around $4.  She wanted to shave my beard but I declined.  It was a great treat.

It is a real adventure getting out among the locals, a friendly smile as I went about doing wonders.