Tea, Tobacco, Flowers, Yunnannese ham are the 4 great things to shop (and bring home) in Kunming. But what about other things in life, so listed below are the prices of "normal" stuff:
1) Tea mug with filter - RMB 15 in a teashop near Cui Hu
2) Ning Xia hawthorn seeds (for chicken soup) - RMB 7 per 250g at a tea shop. RMB 5.50 per 200g at a local supermarket.
3) Can of coke (375ml) - RMB 1.50 at hypermarket, RMB 2 at a tuckshop.
4) Bottle of coke - RMB 1. This is standard. You have to drink it on the spot and return the bottle.
5) Bananas - RMB 3 per KG at the wet market
6) Redbull drink - RMB 4.90 at Walmart; RMB 5.40 at a tuckshop
7) Pamelo (big ones) - RMB 3 each at wet market
8) Quei Ling Gao - RMB 2.50 ea at hypermarket
9) Carton of milk (1 L) - RMB 4 - 5 at hypermarket
10) Oranges - RMB 3.50 per KG in winter time.
11) Pine nuts (this is a must in Yunnan, stir fry the nuts with vege, or eat as a snack, you should use a nutcracker or very strong teeth) - RMB 20 per KG at wet market; RMB 13 per KG at hypermarket.
12) A slice of cake - RMB 3.00 - RMB 8 at a bakery in Kundu.
13) To rent a badminton court - RMB 5 per hour at Yunnan Normal University.
14) Longan fruit - RMB 12 per KG.
15) Wooden doll - RMB 8
16) Minorities figurines - RMB 38
17) Bowl of noodles (mi xian or er si) - from RMB 2
18) Kunming cherries - RMB 1 per 100g. They are the size of fresh sultanas, reddish orange in colour. Very attractive. Sourish. Available in March - April.
19) soya bean milk - fresh (unsweetened) from supermarket soyabean section, about 60c for a big bag of probably 500ml.
20) paracetamol - about RM 3 for a whole bottle of generic brand.
21) peanut butter - 500g for RMB 14.
22) yogurt - the local ones are usually sweetened at RMB 1 - 1.50 each. Danone at RMB 2.50 to RMB 4 (depending on whether there are fruit pieces of just fruit flavour).
Fondest memory: The weather, especially when the sun is hidden by the mist. It is very condusive to physical activities. You can walk for miles without feeling tired. Which means you can shop for days without feeling tired.
It starts with a chinese character for Yunnan's Yun, followed by a letter.
Letter A stands for Kunming.
Letter B is for the 2nd largest town in Yunnan.
And so on and so forth.
Fondest memory: Taxis are all light blue colour.
1. Dali - the most common (and by the way, this company has recently been taken over by Carlsberg for USD26 mil)
2. Lan Chang Jiang - this beer production technology has recently been improved to not use a certain chemical (sorry no idea what that chinese char is in English)
3. Feng Hua Shue Yue - this is famed for its champagne colour.
Fondest memory: Beer is inexpensive in Yunnan. If you visit a local eatery, a 600ml beer costs only RMB3. Of course, the price goes up in the more expensive restaurants.
As a malaysian, I have always thought fruit season means Durian / Mangoesteen / Rambutan season.
In Kunming, you find
Winter (Oct to Jan) : strawberries, navel oranges, grapefruit.
Spring (March, April) : cherries, mulberries, chinese cherries.
Spring - summer (May onwards) : pipa, chinese peaches (yum yum), mangoes, yangmei (this is another yum yum found only in China), li (go for the green ones they are very sweet, absolutely fabulous).
Fondest memory: Try the yangmei (about RMB 1.50 per 100g). I have only eaten the preserved ones at home, but over here, the fresh ones are quite something to eat.
Note: you can't eat too much because it contains an acid that will make your teeth feel soft, and yangmei does not keep well even in the fridge.
Suddenly these stalls spring up like mushrooms after the rain.
Many flavours are available.
The jelly is kept in an earthern bowl, which are stacked face to face with the next bowl to keep them clean. This offers an interesting scene.
RMB 0.50 each. If you want it, a stick is used to take it out of the bowl and also serves as a skewer for you.
Fondest memory: The owner really posed for me when I asked if I could take a photo.
Visitors to Kunming must try this "cross-bridge rice noodles" which orignated from the county of Mongzhi. (see my restaurant tip about this)
Other places have their own varienties. And in the grocery market, you see plenty of them in different sizes and colour no different from the variety of pastas you find in an Italian market.
Fondest memory: The fat sourish noodles are perfect for assam laksa !!
China's value added tax stands at 17%.
However, due to the lack of a proper book-keeping system, many chinese businesses would love to charge you the 17% and keep it in their own pockets instead of paying it to the governement.
So what does the governtment do ? They invent these invoices which businesses must buy from them and give to customers as proof of purchase. Then of course, if the invoices are of no use to you, you won't request it, and it's back to square one for them.
So the government invent lottery invoices. You scratch them, and that may bring you money and prizes. Now this is enough incentive for you to ask for them at a restaurant.
Unfortunately on in restaurants you can obtain lottery invoices. In other places (supermarket, taxi), it's just a boring little piece of paper.
Next time when you pay for your meals, and if it is over RMB5, ask for them. They are called FA(1) PIAO(4).
Fondest memory: My friend won RMB 5 and the whole restaurant knew about it !
This is something that sprang up quite recently. If you are into the historic past or cultura of Yunnan, you may like to visit the sites indicated by these brown boards.
Fondest memory: The ancient "examination booth" in Yunnan University. In the past, exam candidates went into a booth for days to answer questions in their exam papers. These booths can still be seen in Yunnan University. It is called "Gong4 Yuan4".
In the southwest, which includes Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan, chillis and huajiaos are something present in almost every dish, except CHICKEN SOUP.
So if you do not like chilis and huajiaos in your food, always ask the waiter if the dish you order is spicy, and request for less spice, or no spcie.
Fondest memory: The wholesale market at Chenggong is something to see. HUGE, truckloads of veges parked there, and vendors go by "how much per 500 KG".
The whole process takes about an hour. You are seated in a lush red armchair. Doze off, while they are busy with softening your cuticles, filing your nails to the shape you requested, taking away all the dead skincells around the nails, pampering you with a finger spa, and.......then finishing it off with nail polish. I don't remember the details because I always doze off.
Manicure RMB 20
Currently there is a promotion. Buy a package of RMB150 and you get 10 sessions of either manicure or pedicure or both.
Fondest memory: My nails never look so beautiful before.
All kinds of chinese magazines and newspapers are available.
One thing about newspapers here is it is not like what we are familiar with at home, ie a newspaper with various sections: sports, movies, local news, international etc.
Over here, there is a paper for the sole purpose of TV programmes, for there are tens of TV programs available on TV.
And a special paper for PCs, another for sports.
Fondest memory: They sell Chinese national geographics. About RMB 14 I think. This is a great magazine to read (if you read chinese) and the photos are superb.
There are many shoe shine kids (well some are pretty old actually) around the city. They form a scene lining up the sidewalk. No they will not hawk, so it's when you feel like it, you ask for their service.
Fondest memory: If you happen to wear a pair of leather boots, then procure the service for an inexpensive 1 yuan. It takes about 5 -10 minutes for your shoes to look new again. And if you are happy with the service, pay them more. They are honest hardworking people who cannot find employment, so they have to venture out and be their own boss.
Ever wonder how the locals read their newspapers ? There are newspaper boards enacted by the authorities on the road side. Huge panels about 30 feet long for some of them. And the papers are pasted on the panels. Locals just stand before the board and enjoy reading the daily news.
There is not a local English newspaper.
There are plenty local chinese newspapers they make your head spin about which is the proper one to buy. They cost 0.50 yuan each, but some vendors package 3 papers into one and sell them for 1 yuan per set.
Fondest memory: If you read chinese, then I recommend "Spring City Evening" - Chun Cheng Wan Bao, which seems like a popular local paper. The other equally popular one is "City News" - Du Shi Shi Bao.
Recommendation for "good paper" are all not local : Huan Qiou Shi Bao, Can Kao Xiao Xi, amd Nan Fang Zhou Muo.
There are a lot of advertisements on hospital treatments for all kinds of ailments. It makes you feel like you have found a saviour for whatever you are/are not suffering from. All of a sudden you find your health is lacking one or another.
The provincial library offers an inexpensive means to access the Net, at RMB 2 per hour.
You buy the "computer logon" tickets from the ground floor reception, and proceed to the 3rd floor and register yourself with the person in charge. There are about 80 PCs (LCD screen!!!) available. Non-smoking, quiet environment.
Currently there is a promotion. If you buy more than 50hours worth internet access, the ticket costs RMB 1 each.
Location: On "Qian Ju Jie", close to Cui Hu South. It's a huge building you won't miss it.
Fondest memory: It's closed on Friday morning !!
Kunming has many teashops. And tea-tasting is an experience not to be missed.
There are up to 30 different types of tea-leaves on display typically, in large jars.
One can generally categorise the tea into 3 types: green, oo-long, and black. Green = not fermented; oo-long = half fermented; black = fully fermented.
There is also "red", but I found different shops give different interpretations.
You just point out which tea you are interested in, and the shop assistant will let you try it at their tea table, which is built from the root-truck of a huge tree.
And try as many teas as you like, and only buy those you really like.
The price of the tea ranges from RMB 10 per 100 g to RMB 300 per 100 g. And the famous Pu Er tea brick/pancake (which is tea compressed into that shape) costs between RMB 50 to RMB thousands. Bargaining is possible.
Fondest memory: The tea brewing process is elaborate. You have to watch it, but in the end a nice little cup of tea is served to you. You can take your time and ask all the questions about it.
The chinese believe the 3rd cup of tea is the best, so perhaps it's a good idea to drink at least 3 cups before you conclude if it is your cup of tea...
It's also nice the tasting itself is free of charge,but I always feel obliged to buy something at least (even a teacup) after spending hours in a teashop if I don't find the tea I like.