We were surprised to discover that Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, is a large, modern city with skyscrapers and wide streets. Almost all of the traditional neighborhoods had been replaced by new high-rises, leaving little of historical interest to see. Right behind our hotel was one of the few remaining traditional tile-roofed neighborhoods. One street, formerly the heart of the Moslem quarter, was lined with open-air restaurants selling delicious street food. Freshly baked bread, grilled meat with cumin and chili, steaming clay pots with goat cheese and stir-fried spicy greens assailed our noses whenever we ventured into the street, making our mouths water. Kublai Khan originally brought Moslem artisans and scribes from Central Asia to Kunming to run his empire. A small minority remains to this day.
Everywhere people were drinking locally-grown green tea. From the office worker to the taxi driver, each carried a plastic container with floating tea leaves. Our hotel provided us with constant hot water and tea leaves. Vendors on the streets of Kunming sold fruit, mainly litchis and mangosteens. After haggling with one for a while over the prices, he took out a homemade balance to weight the goods. When we hefted the bag, it didn't feel like a kilogram, so we took it to a nearby store to weigh it. The bag turned out to be only 700g. After refusing to sell any more, the vendor marched off in a huff as a crowd of onlookers, attracted by the commotion, smirked.