At the airport, I approached the guy holding a sign with my name on it. I spoke to him in English, he to me in Mandarin. “We have a problem,” I turned to my travel group. Our driver guide speaks zero English, and he does not understand my (elementary) Mandarin. He called his boss, and we made it to our hostel.
The problem is that the boss is leaving for her own holidays in a few days. In the end, Wang and I managed. In fact, he played a part in making Yunnan high up on my “best-loved” trips.
He ordered for us and taught us how to eat Yunnan’s famous “Across the Bridge Noodles.” He also suggested that we take the cable car to Western Hills. And just for this view, it was worth it.
Also known as Kunming Lake, Dianchi is the largest freshwater lake in Yunnan Province and the sixth largest in China. With a stunning landscape and an elevation of 1885 meters, it is often called the Pearl of the Plateau.
Though severely polluted, the lake is the primary water source of Kunming’s industry and agriculture today. At one point, Dianchi made up 40% of the drinking water for the city but had to shift to other sources due to the lake’s severe algae blooms. It is teeming with fish still, and the people who live on the east side still fish for a living.
On the western suburbs of Kunming lies Western Hills, also called Sleeping Buddha Hills because from a distance, it looks that. Another name given is Sleeping Beauty Hills because when viewed from a different angle the hills look like a lady laying beside and her hair trailing into the lake.
The hill stretches from the wooden Huating Temple to the Dragon Gate along the steep cliffs. I didn’t reach the Dragon Gate but instead enjoyed the view from the lower cable car station.
One can also go up the hill on a steep and narrow path, but many prefer to go up through cable car and then walk down. We opted for cable cars both ways.