Down with the Old & Up with the New

Since the 1990s Kunming has undergone extensive redevelopment and population growth. Tom first visited the city in 1987 and remembers a small city of one to two story buildings and narrow streets crowded with bicycles.

Now taxis, private cars and buses speed along 6-lane wide, tree-lined boulevards. Drivers obey traffic signals and rules of the road and they do not drive with their horns the way drivers do in Nepal and India.

Throngs of electric bikes and traditional bicycles own the wide bike lanes on both sides of major streets. Pedestrians have the wide sidewalks to themselves and don't have to share them with bicycles as in Tokyo.

Unlike in Berkeley and Tokyo, any vehicle that rolls on wheels in Kunming has right-of-way over pedestrians. At intersections of any size, and especially when crossing a street with a 'walk' signal, pedestrians must be on the lookout for vehicles turning across their paths.

Kunming has become a city of modern high-rise office buildings and multi-story urban shopping malls with shops selling international luxury designer brands. There are innumerable clusters of high-rise apartment/condo blocks. This is the view from my classroom window:

Historically, many residents lived in blocks of 7-story walk-up flats.

These old apartments are being rapidly demolished to make room for high-rise apartment blocks. Many residents of the old accommodations may be happy to move into more modern dwellings but unhappy about the increased cost.

Throughout the central city vast construction projects are underway on whole city-block areas. One such project is across the street from our language school. From our 16th floor window we see and hear men and machines working 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.

In breaks from studying, we stroll over for a close-up view.

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