Kunming was another huge, modern city, quite a contrast after Dali's quiet charm. Unfortunately it also turned out to be the low point of the trip. Arriving at the hotel we were told that there was 'redecorating' work being carried out but that it would stop at 8pm in the evening, and that there would be no hot water until then. In the rooms this manifested as loud & intrusive noise - it sounded like masonry drilling and seemed to carry through the walls from all directions. Bad enough for those of us just freshening up before heading out for a city walk but unbearable for one of the group who was sick and planned to rest for the afternoon, she was given an alternate room further away from the work but even then it wasn't a very restful solution. Then it turned out that some of us did have hot water but this only became apparent after (from my experience) having a non-English speaking staff member appear at my door, then leave when it was clear that we couldn't communicate, then having reception phone and say they were checking the supply, then the same staff member appeared again, dipped their hand into the flowing basin & shower water, then nod at me to confirm that yes, it was hot.
Next up was our 'walking tour of the city' which turned out to be along busy streets - another example of where a five minute cab ride would have been far nicer & more culturally engaging than a half hour trudge along urban pavements. Our destination was a very new looking 'old town' with a couple of indoor plant and pet shops, not quite the 'City of Eternal Spring' Flower Market that was promised in the trip notes. The pedestrianised area was pleasant enough to walk through but very bland & characterless, not exactly an exotic experience.
Once again Leon's choice of restaurant seemed to be the first one we came to. In theory we were going to sample 'crossing the bridge noodles' (the local speciality dish) but the pictures of the food (most of the restaurants had pictures of the dishes they offered rather than a table menu) wasn't very inviting, the chairs & tables were hard plastic and the dining area decidedly cold. As a group we rebelled and demanded another choice which turned out to be the next one along the street - this one didn't have the signature noodle dish but was appreciably cosier than the first so we decided to stay. At this point I was tired & fed up so I asked Leon to just order anything for me so it was a very pleasant surprise to end up with one of the best meals of my trip, a wonderful concoction of broth, noodles and all manner of herbs & spices.
The evening's entertainment was the Yunnan Impression Cultural Show, an optional extra that had been heavily promoted by both the brochure and our guide. After complaining about long walks through city streets we were going to travel by city bus but this still seemed to require a fairly long walk to get to the bus stop - it was hard to see why a few taxis or hired minibus couldn't have been arranged. The show was pretty good and very well performed but felt over-produced and polished, more Riverdance than folk dance.
Back at the hotel the construction work had stopped but intermittent raised voices, bangs & crashes continued to resound through the walls. Luckily (for me) I was so tired that I fell asleep before I could ring reception to complain.
The next morning's breakfast maintained the hotel's poor impression and I scraped by with some fruit and (unexpected) sweet yogurt, even the coffee was mediocre. We were due to return to Kunming for the last night of the trip and many of us told Leon that coming back to this hotel would definitely be unacceptable. He promised to see what could be done.