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This Yunnan hub could be one of many middle size Chinese cities: a couple of odd looking skyscrapers; a couple hundred malls and a modernized old town (which means they swapped absolutely everything for grey concrete blocks and stuck a few traditional doors on here and there). It feels a world apart from Harbin - less endangered, more relaxed with, dare I say it, easy going taxi drivers.

We stayed in the Seagull Hotel on Seagull Lake, Kunming's main tourist attraction: here you can wander the handful of islands, flail around on the water until you suffocate in an inflated plastic bubble and buy a dozen stale hot-dog rolls to feed to the few thousand seagulls bobbing around on the water. Every so often they flock to critical mass and swoop past the terrified tourists standing on the bridges - perhaps hoping that one of them will fall in. We were hoping too.

This being Chinese New Year we wandered the streets after dinner (which had been thankfully pre-arranged by a friend) watching the fireworks... ending up in the main square where locals launched military grade rockets out of empty beer bottles and tried to get hot air balloon style lanterns into the air without getting them caught in the square's only tree. Of course we all know China goes crazy for fireworks during the new year but at 5am when the booms were getting bigger I did wonder if Japan had made a move.

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