Kunming is in one of China’s southernmost provinces. It gets far less tourist traffic than it’s other provinces. It’s a large metropolis that lies along one of China’s largest freshwater lakes. On the western side of the lake lies Western Hills Park on Xishan Mountain.
We got a late start, and after a great breakfast with some freshly made noodle, we took subway line 3 all the way to the Western Hills Station. We opted to take the shuttle to the tramway to allow us more time exploring the area at the top. This saved us a 5-6KM round trip and 1500 meters of elevation gain up a hill. The scenic lift took us over the forest and provided some amazing views of Kunming and the lake below.
From here we walked. The steep stairs were lined with vendors selling small plastic toys, carved woods, foodstuffs, and popsicles. We hiked up to the top, Lingxu Pavillion, slightly over 2500 meters, seeing the whole of Kunming across the lake.
Going down we went through the historical areas seeing shrine, temple, pavilion, and Buddha after Buddha. Some date back to the 11th century, while others were made later during the Qing dynasty in the late 1600s. A highlight was visiting the Dragon Gate Temple and walking through passageways carved by Taoist Monks. The pathway before and just after were narrow and carved into the cliff. People had to go one by one in order to fit through.
Both Kylie and Alyssa got self-guided recordings in Chinese of all the sights and temples. They spent the next 90 minutes translating and explaining all the sights to Sharleen and I. We learned all about the different Buddha’s, when they were built, by who, and what they represented. We were impressed with how much they understood.
The whole area was a steep maze carved into the side of the mountain covered with forest. Winding stairs went everywhere and it was difficult to keep track of which way we had already gone and what we still needed to see. In the end we didn’t see everything, but our legs ached from all the stairs and walking. An interesting pastime we witnessed at each historical sites was people dressing up in historical fashion. Some would walk around for the day in costume (much like Dickens or Renaissance fairs), while others dressed up for pictures.