This is a personal post to show my nephew some changes that have occurred in Kunming’s landscape since he and his family moved north a few years ago. The snapshots are ordinary, so let’s begin. But first, I have to get off the couch and stop acting silly.
It all started for little Kahon right here at Yunnan University Hospital six years and three months ago, in the delivery room on the 8th floor, where the imperative, “Give me back my baby!” let the doctors know that mama’s baby wasn’t leaving mama.
Said baby now speaks better Chinese than me and his parents.
Staying on Renmin W. Road we head west past the next traffic light which is the city’s 1st Ring Road to look at our favorite Muslim restaurant. It’s still there, but the things next to it aren’t. The picture of the restaurant and its neighbors’ destruction was taken from the gate of what was once Kunming University–which is moving forty-five minutes away to Cheng Gong with all the other schools in town along with their undergraduate students.
Notice the extensive open space to the right of the last two buildings standing. There are several such projects along the south side of Renmin W. Road, but the entire north side from Kunming University to 西园路 Xiyuan Road has been cleared! Look at
those tiny buildings at the far left–that’s Xiyuan Road. For folks who aren’t familiar with Kunming, there used to be whole communities living in there, but not anymore. These pictures were taken by putting my camera on top of the wall that surrounds the project.
Renmin W. Road is also starting to get torn up for the new subway, but nothing like what has been happening for the last twenty-one months on Beijing Road, where subway construction has caused the traffic from the South Train Station to Metro to become a daily still life delerium for commuters, but that’s another story.
Peddling up past the Wickerbasket at the 2nd Ring Road we get on the Kunming-Guizhou By-Pass (Guizhou is the next province for those of you without a map) and the west side of town is starting to look like the north side–five years ago.
Then over the railroad tracks (I’ll walk them one day taking pictures) and onto the
the 3rd Ring Road, which I think is only a half-donut because it’s up against the mountains and the lake is on the south side of town. Dianchi Lake, China’s 6th largest lake in area, might be 143rd in volume because half of it is agri-chem/industrial run-off and the other half is only chest deep (this clause is not in error and contains a zeugma). You can’t really drown in it because the pollutants give you buoyancy. But all the fish are dead, so it’s still possible to die in it.
Anyway, the 3rd Ring Road takes you from the end of Renmin W. Road, where you can still see the “Building China Pickaxes and Sledgehammers in Hand” motif sculpted in cement, all the way to your school! On an 1800 Goldwing you could get there in about three minutes. So let’s take three minutes and head north!
This village, as you can see, is just outside the 3rd Ring Road, as also is the Haiyuan Temple, the temple we visited with your folks, which now has a superior first-class view of this elevated highway whizzing by just fifty feet from its front gate!
Note 黑林铺 Heilin Pu–home again!
There’s the rock quarry! The one we used to skirt when making our temple-on-the-mountain trek! This highway takes some of the charm out of the wilderness, a bit like opening a McDonald’s in Shangri-La.
See the white dome of the college across the street from yours? We’re almost there! Oh, and see those tall 19-story apartment buildings? Well, there are 16 of them and they’re sitting right on top of the village we used to visit (below).
I have no idea what their going to build on the other side of the street where we used to sit in that covered gazebo talking to nannies and toddlers; maybe you can figure it out by the lay of the rubble.
The entire village is gone, and the new apartments extend all the way back to where that marijuana patch was on the edge of that big field. The field is still there, but barren, as prep-work is being done to transform it.
Home was five floors above that white car. The wall that students used to jump over to escape school supervision is now gone, along with your view, having been replaced by a new housing unit! Let’s walk around to the other side and see…
another housing unit (left) that has been built to replace that smelly little toxic lead-paint manufacturing operation next door–how’d they ever get into your school? Up to your door on the fifth floor…
and out on the street–which is now a four-lane road–no more bumps and sawed off tree stumps sticking up out of the pavement (like the one I hit with my foot when riding my bike at midnight–luckily I was wearing low-top boots instead of shoes). And I don’t know how they took that one turn out of the road, but they did, so that it’s now a straight shot all the way to the interchange, which the 1800 Goldwing could do in about 30 seconds if you got everybody off the street.