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Report 3 - September 19, 1999
This time a brief description of two touristic places of Kunming, the Daguan Park and the Buddhist Yuantong temple.
The Daguan Park lies southwest of the city center, on the northern bank of lake Dian. The place is worth a quick tour mainly for its beautiful display of flowers and penjing (bonsai), which is an usual feature of Chinese parks. Daguan means Grand View, and actually from the three-stored Daguan Tower you can enjoy a good sight of the lake; the outer walls are inscribed with a poem by Qing poet Sun Ranweng. Other small pavilions house exhibitions of paintings depicting the local minorities as well as scrolls of calligraphy. It is possible to get boats (quite expensive) to Dragon Gate Village and Haigeng Park, where you can see an artificial display of the living habits of the 26 minorities of Yunnan; actually we didn't go there, sounded too much like a zoo.

Not far from the lake Cui, north of the city center, there's the Yuantong Buddhist temple. Unlike the majority of Chinese temples, this one doesn't look like it's been rebuilt and painted the day before - though it probably has. The heart of the temple is an octagonal pavilion in the middle of a square pond (see picture); a larger hall behind this pavilion is currently under renovation. A new pavilion has been added in the Eighties to host a statue of Buddha, a gift from the king of Thailand: it's a white building with engraved elephants and elaborate roofs. To the right of this pavilion, beautiful characters are engraved in the stone. Inside of the halls, golden statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The most interesting thing one sees in this kind of temples, in spite of the fact that an admission ticket is required (4 yuan), is a lot of Chinese praying and burning incense.


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