The first view of K’un-ming came at midday on December 23. Under the clear blue sky, they saw the great city in the distance, its crenelated walls rising in stark relief.
This was the biggest city they had seen since they left Saigon. despite the damage inflicted during the assaults mounted by the rebels at the beginning of the decade, the city’s fortified walls were in good repair. The streets were lively with constant streams of passersby. and there seemed every evidence that here in K’un-ming the fabled riches of southwestern China were present in abundance. Shop front succeeded shopfront; the merchants’ goods were displayed in carefully arranged cases. The uniform color of the buildings was relieved in the commercial quarters of the city by the thousands of golden painted character hung above the shop fronts proclaiming the nature of the merchandise for sale.