Exploring Kunming: Bike Ride to Daguan Park & Dianchi Lake

I took advantage of the weekend and relaxed by watching A LOT of Battlestar Galactica. My friends have gotten me addicted to the show. I cannot stop! I hit a point in the afternoon where I felt like a lazy slob–lying in bed, eyes dazed and emotionless while looking at the computer screen (all I needed were Dorito chips and the imagery would be perfect). So, I got out of bed, changed, and started to bike towards the West part of the city. I wanted to find Dianchi Lake. I’ve seen it many times while busing and hiking up the Western Hills. It’s a large body of water that lines Kunming western edge. It shouldn’t be that hard to find, right?

Somehow, I missed it, and biked for two hours aimlessly through the poorer suburbs. The first batch of suburbs I went through were going being demolished and being turned into brand new apartment complexes. The residents that once lived in the 2-3 story cement buildings will most likely never be able to afford a room in these new complexes. That’s currently a social issue in China: finding an affordable home. There are more luxurious apartment buildings being built than the demand for them. As apartment prices rise, the difficultly of living for average Chinese rise too.

For instance, as of now, Hangzhou city in Zhejiang Province is the most expensive city to live in China. The price per square meter to buy an apartment in the city center is 42,668.77 ¥ (which equals out to ~$6857). So, if a recently married Chinese college graduate is looking for a cheap place to live with his wife, they would most likely look for a small ~60m studio. The price for such an apartment would be around 2,560,094¥ (equals out to ~$411,420). If a family was looking for an apartment in the city, they would look for around 250m 2-3 bedroom apartment. The price for such an apartment would be around 10,667,060¥ (equals out to around $1,714,250). To rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city center would be around 4,172.22 ¥ (equals out to ~$670). Information taken from here. I hope my math is correct! [edit: my friend who lives in Hangzhou mentioned that there is affordable living in the city and that my numbers may only apply to more ritzy standards. Thanks for the comment!]. Kunming is much more affordable than Hangzhou, but every year its housing prices rise. I already hear Kunming residents complaining about the cost of living.

After scouring the suburbs and asking random people for directions, I finally found Dianchi Lake.

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Man Fishing Alongside Dianchi Lake –I wouldn’t eat the fish!

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My Bike and Smelly Dianchi Lake

Dianchi Lake is renowned for its pollution. It has become so serious that people should no longer drink the water, swim in it, and, I think, even fish in it. Are there still one-headed fish that survived the contamination? The lake is now being cleaned, but the waters still exude a subtle stench. It’s pretty to look at though. From the lake, I followed a path that bordered an amusement park. I noticed two old men watching a roller coaster prepare to catapult its riders down towards the ground. I watched too.

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Watching the Roller Coaster Ride

After following the path, I hit a road again and started biking. Fortunately, I biked right to the entrance of Daguan Park. I was told by my friends before it was worth a visit. Coincidentally, I biked right to it! I payed 20¥ and walked around. My legs were tired from biking. It was nice to take it easy and look at the lake and flowers.

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Inside Daguan Park

I found a bench and sat down. I looked out at the smelly lake and gazed at the Western Hills. I sat there for a while. Usually, when I’m by myself, more Chinese people approach me and say “hal-lo.” I smile and politely respond back. Sometimes the conversations are very short: “Hal-lo,” “Hello.” Or they can lead to longer conversations that slowly change back to Chinese. This time there were no long conversations, just cute little Chinese kids who blushed and ran away after saying “Gud day, how er yu?”

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View of the Western Hill From the Bench

After walking around the entire park (including roller coaster I had past earlier), I exited the area and biked back home. I made dinner that night. I was starving and was home first. I made pineapple fried rice and Teriyaki Tofu. My other roommate helped make cabbage soup, vegetable hearts, and brought home Dai minority food. Every night we normally eat together. Good day.

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4 thoughts on “Exploring Kunming: Bike Ride to Daguan Park & Dianchi Lake

  1. Cool post! But I actually think Hangzhou is more livable than the numbers you gave– you’d be looking at a really nice,large one bedroom for 4000 yuan. I’d seen a one bedroom apartment that would be pretty close to “city center” (but it’s hard to say what city center is in hangzhou) for 2800 yuan. Guess I should add some of the data I know (with help from roomies!)

    • Thanks for checking my numbers Su-Yee! I was just following the numbers on that site. I thought the prices seemed steep too. It seems like renting isn’t that big of an issue though. I hope to find myself in Hangzhou at some point and see you guys! Are you coming to Yunnan at all? I heard you passed by us from Thailand.

      • Yay, I’d love to have you visit! I’m definitely planning on coming to Yunnan, maybe in March when my bf visits China? How’s the weather there in late March? I did have a layover in Kunming but it was just a few hours (but who knew there were so few flights from Shanghai to Kunming?)

      • The weather will be beautiful in March. The closer to Spring the more beautiful Kunming becomes…though it’s usually consistently beautiful. It’s been blue skies for over a week now. I can’t wait to see you, Su Yee! Definitely keep me posted when you drop by. I’ll probably see you next in TAIWAN though. Woohoo!

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