The Old Street is the only traditional street block in Kunming which retains the layout from the Ming and Qing dynasty. The block is home to plenty of historical relics and protected buildings. The main parts of the quarter are Wenming, Guanghua, Qianwang, and Jingxing Streets.
Unearth the synchronicity of modernity and history
Entering the Old Street from Zhengyi Square, the flagstones beneath ones feet are rinsed clean by rainwater. There is a modern shopping centre building with glass walls on the right side, and historical architecture to the left. A new era and the past are fused simply within metres of one another. Old buildings are dyed amber with time, matched with brick red tiles and glossy green trees, offering a harmonious and refined sight.
Qianwang Street's hidden gem – Family Ma Courtyard
As the historical relics yellow with age, we are stepping into Qianwang street. The gem, Family Ma courtyard stands just in left side corner. The courtyard was built in the late Qing Dynasty and the early years of the republic of China. It is a well-preserved typical quadrangle private yard and is listed as a cultural heritage conservation building. The yard is decorated simply and elegantly. A few of the wing-rooms on the second floor are now occupied as a tea house, where you can sit at the terrace, enjoy a pot of tea, and feel like you are passing back through time.
On the first floor is a cafe which is soaked with the retro air of the courtyard. A Pu'er tea store remodeled in a fashionable style is just across the street. The magic of the Old Street is revealed here and there, and the feel of history and contemporary vibe add radiance and beauty to each other.
Nobility from past ages lasts to this day
The former site of Fuchun Heng trade is set back inside a shabby alley. This courtyard carries traditional Chinese and western style elements and has elegantly stood here for 97 years. It was built by commander Zonghan Jiang in 1876, and its main business used to be silk, jewels, Chinese herbs and local specialities. The facade is comprised of stone carvings with ancient China aristocratic styling on the top and western-style brick walls on each side. It is now run by Hotel Yingui 1924.
A paint of ivory white, glossy green and ochre
A cleanly designed house sits inside the courtyard. Three spacious windows align tidily across the first floor, and the bright orange light shining through the windowpanes, gives a finishing touch to the grayish building. An ivory white wall is attached to the brown brick side of this historic building, while a turquoise green tree stretches tall and proud in front of the white wall, painting a naturally poetic scene. Kongque Hui, a modern semi-circle glass dining room owned by Liping Yang, is opposite the old house.
Pingyuan, a teahouse embedded in the alley
The historical architecture of the tea house can be seen in its exterior, larger bricks of ash grey, earth yellow, and carbon black are interlaced. After passing by a beer house where a free video game console is provided, we have already walked through one thirds of the Old Street.
Our journey for today ends for the moment. In the next chapter, we will step into Guanghua Street, and continue our exploration of the Old Street.