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Day 1: Singapore Changi International Airport T1-> BKK Suvarnabhumi airport (Transit) -> China: Kunming Changshui International Airport (昆明长水国际机场) -> Dali, China (Sanfu Inn, 三福客栈)
China here we come ~ It is our first time going to China except for Papa who has been there multiple times. However it is our first time to Yunnan - Place of high altitude (average of above 2000m). We were super scared of altitude sickness but was really blessed that none of us had severe symptoms during our trip!

So we booked our Thai Airways flight to Kunming somewhere end February when they had a sale and our total return tickets (4 flights each in total) for just below SGD 2k. Outbound from singapore to Kunming, there's only China Eastern and Silkair that fly direct. However China Eastern only have red eye flight (3.30am) and both airlines does not fly daily. Due to our tight work commitments which restricted our schedule, we prefer to fly on Wednesday and both airlines do not fly on Wed. China Eastern only fly on Mon, Thu, Sat while Silk Air only fly Sun, tue, thu and fri. However the timings are not exactly favourable. Likewise, they do not fly daily back to Singapore. Price wise Silkair harge roughly above SGD 2k for 4 pax. Hence after serious consideration, we decide to stick with Thai Airways given its more wallet friendly yet acceptable service and flexible flight timings. 

Thai Airways fly daily to Kunming with a stop over at Bangkok. No doubt it can be a little tedious to deal with transit flight, the transit time is not exactly long (of about 1 hr 50 mins) which we thought is acceptable. With that, we choose to stop by Bangkok for a 3 nights stay before continuing the last flight back to Singapore.

Alright enough said, lets get back to Day 1 where we were all so excited, couldn't sleep and anxiously counting down the time to our flight. We were due to board TG 402 (SIN>BKK) bound for Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport at 7,40am thereafter we will transfer to TG 612 bound for Kunming at 10.50am Bangkok time. Do take note that Bangkok is 1 hour behind Singapore's time. Singapore and China share the same time zone (ie. no time difference)

Thai Airways check in counter @ Changi Airport T1, Row 4
 We reached Singapore Changi International Airport T1 at around 5.40am ( 2 hours before our flight departure). We were so glad that we did online check in the day before via ThaiAirways Icheckin. They have a specialised check in counter for passengers who has done online check in and surprisingly there's no queue at the counter. Whereas as you can see from the photo above, the long snake queues are for passengers who had not done any online check in. So one small tip here: Pls do online check in whenever possible even if you have baggage to check in, to save time !

Boardng Pass TG402
There we go, got our boarding pass and baggage tags within 10 mins. Back when we did online check in, we were issued electronic boarding pass for our second flight (BKK > KMG), however when we check in over here at the counter, the staff issued us our paper boarding pass for TG 402 and TG 612 together. I guess paper boarding pass is ultimately better (nicer too haha!).

We headed for the departure immigration gates once we got our boarding pass.

Airport duty free aisle @ 6am
Our gate is D49 and oh boy, it is at the extreme end of the other side. We had to walk a good 15mins to reach the gate. Do ensure sufficient buffer time!

Gate D49
Sharing the same security check counter at gate D49 are Jetstar (Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong bound flights). We slacked around the comfy seats outside our gate before entering this final security checkpoint where we had to empty our water :( One thing different about the security checkpoint in Singapore and the many other countries (Hong kong, China, Bkk...) is there Singapore has 2 checkpoints and you only need to make sure you do not carry more than 100ml of liquid in the second checkpoint. Whereas for other countries, typically at the first checkpoint, they will have the security scan and you have to empty any liquids in your belongings for hand carry.

TG 402
A good sunny weather to start our trip! Yays *

Aircraft was available for boarding around 7.25am and once you board this Thai Aircraft, you see pleasant smiles and hear warm greetings of 'Sawadeeka' from the cabin crew. And of course how can you miss the 'myraid' colours of seat covers onboard Thai Airway.

TG 402 Aircraft (Boeing 777)
With just a slight 5 mins of delay, the aircraft ascend into the clouds.

View from the aircraft @ 8.03am
From Singapore to Kunming, the flight duration is approx 2 hr 20 mins. We were bound for arrival at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport at 9am BKK time. Similar to Singapore Air, Thai Airways is also a Star Alliance member. Back when we board SQ during our Hong Kong Trip, the air stewardess will give us hot towel to freshen up/disinefect. However on board Thai Airways, we got pre-packed wet tissue instead. But oh well, given the price paid and good service we received, it is still worth flying with Thai Airways  in our opinion.

About half way into the flight, meals were served. We chose fried carrot cake.

Breakfast on Tg402
* Do note the food served above consist of a bun & butter too.

Close up view of the carrot cake
To be honest, we find the carrot cake acceptable but not exactly delicious. The subsequent airplane meals were more to our liking haha.

Up in the sky @ 9am
During our this flight, the entertainment system was not working functionally for ours. Some other passengers faced the same problem (the movies cannot be played) while some could. Luckily it was just a short journey.

Soon, the aircraft was preparing for landing.

View from Aircraft @ 8.44am Bangkok time 
Look at the neat rows of plantations? ~

View from Aircraft @ 8.50am Bangkok time
Landing was on time. Upon disembarkation, we head straight for the transit gates. If you are transiting at BKK Suvarnabhumi airport, do familiarise with their transit procedures @ their official web here.

Otherwise, just follow the overhead banners that state transit gate. As we had already gotten our boarding pass, we only need to head for our gate, of course going through an x ray scanner beforehand.
Overhead banners guiding you the way to 'transfer/transit'

We headed to the west transfer counters upon asking the ground staff. It was a long long long walk. We can feel the long walk even though we had the help of travellators :(

Previously we read the online manual and was told to look for whether our airline is in the west or east zone, and of course reality is not that simple. When we look at the board for whether Thai Airway belongs to the east or west zone it states both. We were baffled and had to ask people along the way who had limited English communication skills.

Transfer zone information board
I would recommend, that if you had your boarding pass with you already, then just follow the overhead banners that lead to transit/transfer, thereafter look out for departure screen and search for your flight.

Departure information screen
For eg our connecting flight is TG 612, and it will show the departure gate which is F5. Thereafter, follow the arrivals directory information which is normally available along the side of the aisle that you will walk when walking toward transit/transfer area. Locate where you are now on the map, and your departure gate then head towards the direction, and you are on the right path.

Arrivals directory information 
Soon, you will reach the x ray scanner area as seen below. Do note security check is the same - or rather even stricter! Do note that liquids of more than 100ml are not allowed too!

Xray security scan at transit area
x ray security scan
In our opinion, the security scan is considered quite rigorous. Procedures is as such, removal of bag, jacket, tablet on to the conveyor belt. Then step into the round 'cyclinder' thing and raise your hand for the scanner to scan twice. Remember if you are wearing belt (females/males) you have to remove it. Thereafter remove all covered shoes for scanning.

No doubt security scanning was tedious but it was cleared pretty fast. There was no queue. Once again our departure gate for flight bound for Kunming is right at the other end.

Snacks drink vending machine along the way near departure gate
Departure Gate F5
TG 612
We had to climb down the 'ramp' to reach the holding area for TG 612. TG 612 plane model is Airbus A330.

TG 612 boarding pass
We reached Departure gate F5 at around 11am Bangkok time, and the aircraft was ready for boarding in 20 mins time. Thank goodness that there was not much delay for the arrival of our previous flight, if not there might be some problem in catching this flight.

At the holding area, drinking water station is available. Surprisingly the carrier is pretty packed with people of almost 90% full, mostly China nationals.

We were on board at 11.30am Bangkok time.

View of other Thai Aircrafts
Airport view from cabin
other aircrafts
fluffy clouds
The flight duration from BKK to KMG (Kunming Changshui International Airport) is about 2 hr 15 mins. We were due for departure at 10.50am Bangkok time and reaching Kunming at 2.05pm China time. Flight departure was on time with only slight delay.

View from airplane at 11.06am (Bangkok Time)
In 10 mins time, phew like magic and we are in a sea of clouds.

Cloudy weather
Similarly within 30 mins time from take off, food was served. This time round we ordered 2 special meal (Vegetarian Oriental) to try. Special meals were served earlier than standard meal and the flight attendant will confirm with you your meal prior to departure. Special meals were requested online when we book the tickets. Dont worry, amendment is possible even after booking but best to be done asap.

TG612 Vegetarian Oriental Meal
TG612 Standard meal (Fish)
TG 612 standard meal (Chicken)
The salad and dessert were different for the vegetarian and standard meal. Do note that both meals comes with a bun & butter too. The dessert for vegetarian is like agar-agar jelly while for standard meal is cake (which is pretty sinful). If you like something bland and vegan, this vegetarian oriental meal is suitable and good. Otherwise, we feel the standard meal for this flight is pretty good too. The chicken is covered with Thai sauce (dont worried, not very spicy).

 Thank goodness, the entertainment system was good and working for this leg. Managed to watch a movie (didn't complete it though), and its time for landing soon!

View from aircraft at around 1.40pm China time
View from aircraft around 1.50pm
View from aircraft
 Barren lands, hills, plantations are all we see as we approach Kunming Changshui Airport.

And... we landed at around 2pm.

landed at Kunming Changshui International Airport
 Weather was really sunny and we thought that it will be very very hot and we will be sweating. However when we step out of the aircraft and proceed for clearance, we caught some breeze from outside and its surprisingly cooling (for someone who comes from tropical country). When we were on board the aircraft, the cabin crew mentioned that the temperature at Kunming is 25 degrees celsius. Very comfortable ~ Aircon temperature just what we enjoy.

Custom clearance was okay acceptable. Earlier on, we pre-arranged a 7 seater car to fetch us from Kunming Airport to Dali town. It is a pretty far journey of 4-5 hours. We did consider putting it to the next day or taking train, however train timings were pretty limited and we were short of time so we decided to lump the travelling all in one day. Thus practically our plan for the afternoon is just travelling to Dali and check in to our hotel at Dali (Erhai) to rest for the night.

When we reach, we gave our driver (小吴) a ring, and was told to wait for him at Level 3 Door 4. Normally if you hired a driver, the driver supposedly will wait for you such that when you reach arrival hall you can board the arranged transport immediately without delay. However we later on then realise that at Kunming Changshui Airport, generally the outdoor area at arrival hall at Lvl 1 is for buses and not private cars. All private cars/hired cars will be at level 3 and they have a strict rule of not allowing the drivers to stop the car there.

Strict rule: 客下即走 (Leave immediately. no wandering)
Do take the lift to Level 3 (departure hall) if you have plenty of baggages then look for the respective door that you are supposed to wait for (1-4).

First sight that greeted us as we step outside
Immediately we feel somewhat 'taller' given Kunming's elevation of around 2000m. The air was cooling too.

waiting area for car/vehicles after exiting Level 3 Door 4
Waiting area to hop on/drop off
When you cross the road to the other side, you will see the pretty flower garden that says "Welcome to Yunnan".

'Welcome to Yunnan' flower garden
Many pretty flowers not sure if its because the season we went is summer or it just happen all year round. We waited for sometime and our driver (小吴) came around 3.15pm.

Courtesy of Baidu Maps (Kunming airport to Sanfu Inn)
Basically that is how far we have to travel (approx 377.1km).
Toll Checkpoint
 And we are on our way to Dali (大理)!
Expressway to Dali
And another toll station :/ I think after this we should be out of Kunming and on the way to 楚雄(Chu Xiong) before heading to Dali. It was around 4.45pm.
Kunming West Toll station 
Generally the road towards Dali from Kunming is quite 'safe' in a way and smooth as its expressway throughout as compared to the road from Lijiang to Shangri-la. 小吴drove pretty fast throughout of average 100-120km/hr.

hills along the way ( 1 hour into the journey)
Yunnan is undergoing major development for the next 5 years as the government intend to develop the area into a more touristy place with more well connected transport like trains. For eg currently the only way to get to Shangri-la is only by car or plane, there's plan to build railway next time. Similarly the road to Lugu Lake is very inconvenient at this moment, but in future it will be more convenient with more roads build and interconnected.

half built railway (5.30pm)
We knew that the journey will be long however we thought there would be toilet breaks along the way but nah, 小吴didnt give us any toilet breaks. But I believe if we did ask for it he would give still :) So.. we became camels for the 4-5 hours.

taken @ 6pm
We are nearing erhai! * screams*
taken @ 6.25pm
more views along the way
Cemeteries on the hilltop
winding expressway

Dali, Erhai (环海路)
seats for people to sit beside the sea and just chill

activities around erhai
And with that we reached Sanfu Inn at around 7.30pm. The whole journey took about 4.5 hours drive.
三福客栈(Sanfu Inn)
Do note that picture of Sanfu Inn was taken the next morning, however it is indeed still very bright when we reach there as yunnan tends to have a later sunset.

our driver (小吴) and his 6 seater car
小吴's 6 seater car with privacy filter on the windows
Our driver, 小吴 seems to be very busy throughout the journey with multiple phone calls along the way. However overall we are satisfied given the price paid and the comfort of his car. Mind you, extremely comfortable for a 4-5 hours ride and it is pretty new! In total for this single trip from Kunming Airport to our accomodation at Dali, we paid RMB 1300 (SGD $270.83) (inclusive of deposit). A deposit of $200 RMB was needed during booking. We correspond with him via Wei Xin (微信). Do note that in China, the primary mode of communication with all China drivers are through either direct phone calls or 微信. Please do not Whatsapp/telegram them.
We found him via online internet. There wasn't much reviews about him online but we thought the price is reasonable. DO NOT FIND OVERLY CHEAP PACKAGES. As you never know if you will meet those that bring you to 购物站 (shopping places) and end up you do unnecessarily buying. 小吴 is part of a driver team of 20-40 drivers with 唐师傅as the coordinator. We got 唐师傅contact online and was told that he would not be free to fetch us on our day so he got another driver - 小吴 to fetch us. Overall we recommend him - given the car condition (comfortably sit 5 passengers excluding driver and luggages) and the price paid.

Back to Sanfu Inn, we booked 2 rooms (豪华海景标准间) via Ctrip 

In total we paid RMB 430/room/night (SGD 86.77). It is the most expensive room we booked throughout this trip. The main reason for this high price is because we chose a room with sea view. However this price is considered low already for sea view rooms along erhai as it is located in 挖色镇。If you were to stay at 双廊 it will definitely cost more for a room with good seaview (full seaview and not partial). As we had driver and we will be going to Mount Jizu (鸡足山) the next day, we thought the best economical decision would  be to stay at 挖色镇.

We were allocated 2 rooms - 301 and 202. There are only 3 storeys in total and do note there's no lift. I would advise if you want to stay this place, then you should treat it more like '民宿' rather than 'hotel'.

Surprisingly we saw some awards displayed at Sanfu Inn Lobby. It seems promising!

Awards displayed at lobby (Top to bottom): Top Ten Sea view Inns in 2015, Security of inn (given 2 stars)
* our rooms were taken on the last day of our checkout. Pardon for the messy room.
bedroom (2 single beds)
Room 301 had an additional small window overlooking the school
There seem to be limited TV channels. We could only see CCTV 1 throughout.
Kettle and tea in a circle capsule
The bathroom is spacious enough with separate sink, toilet, bathing area. Hot water was powerful enough too.

bathing area
dressing table
balcony overlooking Erhai (小普陀)
View from hotel at 7.55pm
Sanfu Inn is located directly just opposite the 小普陀rock. If the driver had difficulty in finding this place, just tell him 小普陀 and you will be able to see this inn.
View from room
With that, we had a light dinner of bread and rest for the night. Had a long day of travelling and the next day awaits us with some 'strenuous climbing exercise'.


Sunset @ Erhai (taken from room at 8pm)
In Yunnan, generally sunset after 8pm. So in contrast to Singapore weather where the skies start to get dark after 7pm, the skies here are still very bright after 7pm.


Marry John said...

Nice post with beautiful pics and useful information. I am highly impressed, keep sharing. Thanks.

Bangkok Airport Transfer

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