after an unmemorable courtesy breakfast at the lianyun hotel (it wasn't even free, i had an RMB$10 ticket, but they wanted me to pay another RMB$10, but one of the ladies said it was okay and let me in anyway), i moved across the street to the daguangming hotel. the room was almost twice as big, including central air conditioning and a mini-fridge. unfortunately the water is only warm at best, which i found out when i took a shower, but otherwise it was a really nice place, on the 5th floor, with a pretty good view of one of the side streets.
i didn't realize it but the entrance to the zoo is almost across the street from the hotel. i looked at the sign, "admission: RMB$10." can that be right? i was ready to pay 10x that amount. but sure enough, this is probably one of the cheapest zoos i've ever visited (not including the free washington national zoo). there were some special exhibits as well, the aquarium, and a goldfish exhibit, at RMB$10 each, but even then that was cheap enough that i bought a ticket for everything.
the first thing i visited, the aquarium, was nothing to write home about. some seals, some penguins, some fish in tanks. although not as new as the fancy shanghai aquarium, i liked their displays better because they tried to mimic the natural fish environment, instead of going the artificial route. there was a sea turtle in a shallow pool of water living in a tiled enclosure, covered in coins people tossed for luck. ah, that's nice. there were also some giant salamanders (i love me some salamanders!) but they were kept in glass tanks so small they could barely turn around. nice.
next up was the goldfish exhibit, sharing the same space with the children's amusement park. by that time it started raining heavily, but i still managed to browse the tanks.
i then walked around the zoo, with the ever increasing rain. my shoes already soaking wet. it was pretty miserable, and the misery seemed to be shared by the animals, who if they weren't hiding were sleeping. the only creatures that didn't seem to mind where the elephants, who were enjoying their mud bath.
there was also a peacock garden, but wet peacocks are a sad sight, and those smart enough hid underneath trees and enclosures to avoid the rain.
there was a butterfly garden, which was one of the highlights of my zoo experience. i must've stayed there for an hour, slowly walking around, taking photos of the butterflies, many of which weren't flying much due to the cool, wet weather.
one of my main reasons for visiting the zoo was to see the rare golden-haired monkeys. i almost left without seeing them, until i saw where they were kept on a zoo map. i went back and found the place, but no golden monkeys to be seen, although they did have some leaf monkeys, which are just as good.
yuantong temple (back view)
i had some shiao long bao for lunch outside the zoo (RMB$3, wasn't that good), then went back to the hotel. after recovering from the rain, i was out again in the late afternoon, this time taking the bus to kunming bus station to ask about a ticket to guiyang.
kunming train station
coming back, i went to the camera store to see if my lens was ready, even though they told me to come tomorrow. to my delight, the lens was already fixed, and when i put it back onto my camera, i was able to snap away without the camera crashing. i thanked the repair man profusely, paid RMB$320 (US$40), and left the happiest boy in kunming.
for dinner i had some "cross-bridge" noodles (RMB$8) at a restaurant across the street from my new hotel. it's kind of like vietnamese pho, where you have some raw meat that cooks in the hot broth of the noodle soup, but with thicker rice noodles.
in the evening i wanted to sample some pu'er tea, which my waitress at the 1915 restaurant was raving about last night, and said i should try some before i left yunnan (where its farmed). i visited a very expensive looking teahouse, with ladies in red chipao waiting outside the door, and asked to see a tea menu. their cheapest tea was RMB$168 (US$20), which includes the rental of a traditionally furnished tea room. too rich for my taste, i left and went across the street to a place that seemed cheaper.
a pot of pu'er tea with osmanthus flower went for RMB$78 (US$10), which seemed more reasonable, though still expensive (pu'er is one of the more expensive teas though). i kept on drinking, waiting for the tea to go light, but it kept on staying dark. i must've drank 20 cups of tea, writing in my journal, talking with the waitresses, until finally i gave up. before i left, i asked to use the bathroom, my tea-filled bladder aching for release.
north station hotel
with my shoes completely soaked, i passed by a shoe store and saw a pair i liked for RMB$25 (US$3) and bought it on the spot, just so i can have some dry shoes for tomorrow. i also got some socks at another store, 3 pairs for US$1. i made my way to the north train station, got a few photos, before deciding to head back. with my bladder begging for release once again (20 cups of tea? too much), i grabbed an RMB$3 motorcycle ride back to the hotel instead of walking.