You would think that living in a city of 6.5 million people would prepare me for a trip to a “big” city like Bangkok. Except that it didn’t…. Kunming, despite its huge population, is a village compared to Bangkok. Population wise the two cities are pretty much on par, but in terms of development and worldliness they are light years apart.
We foreigners stand out like sore thumbs in Kunming; and in Bangkok nobody looks at us twice.
In Kunming people dawdle across the streets randomly without fear of being run over; in Bangkok crossing the street feels like a suicide mission.
In Kunming I often rush past people because they are so slow, but in Bangkok I am the one being shoved aside as I amble along the sidewalks.
In Kunming the only option for public transport are taxis and busses (and a very new one line metro which nobody trusts yet) but in Bangkok there are tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis, real taxis, a metro, a skytrain and boats to choose from.
The one similarity the two cities have is the abundance of street food. You need never go hungry in either of these two places. There are fruit stalls, and sidewalk barbecues aplenty. The two cities also seem to share a love of soy milk sold in inflated plastic bags.
As I wander along the streets feeling a bit like a farm girl who came to the city for the first time, these food stalls are my anchor of familiarity and their smiling vendors relieve me of any big city anxieties that may have developed!