Next up: Libby and Brad play Charades!

My Travels

 

I sit writing this, listening to the chanting of what is a tug of war between chefs and restaurateurs below my 15th floor window. 

This is not the first, and definitely not the last time that I will be confounded by what I see in China.
From live turtles for sale at the grocery store (In the seafood department, to be clear), to shitzus dressed like Paris Hilton’s accessory dogs, I have been confused.

From standing in line at the train station under a sign in mandarin that yes- ABSOLUTELY- bears our train number and IS the right gate, we still miss the train that wasn’t meant to depart for another 5 minutes.  Confused.  And waiting until the next days train.

Getting a foot massage with an ashtray and redbull beside me, I wonder to the legitimacy of the massage parlour.  After some careful observations, we were unfortunately no longer confused.
We have been in Kunming, China for 2 weeks now- a feat to say the least!  Our first week, we ate the exact same dish 8 times because we know that we like it, we can easily identify if a restaurant sells it, and after a few mystery meat meals, we had decided to take chances later in our 3 months here.

 

Kunming (3.2 million people) is the capital of the Yunnan province, a province that is slightly bigger than Germany. Yunnan is less populated than elsewhere in China – a mere 50 million people – which is one of the reasons why we were attracted to it.  It’s known for the production of pu’er tea, coffee, flowers, and tobacco.

Since we’re travelling in China for the next few months, we enrolled in 2 weeks of Mandarin immersion with a school called Keats.  Every day, we have 4 hours of study with our respective teachers, which is quite the change in habit for a couple of lollygags like us.  We head back to our room with a stack of vocabulary and sentence structures to memorize, and unbelievably enough, Brad’s teacher has him doing his homework via voice recordings on WeChat –  what a man of technology!  We also get a gym membership while here, so I have gone to several yoga classes… a little nervously at first. It’s a great change of pace.

Today, we went for a walk to a popular park in town called Green Lake.  It’s a lake with bridges and pathways weaving through it, and in one particular area, everyone (many, many seniors) come out and dance and sing!  This happens every day of the week, but on the weekend it is packed.  Yunnan has many minority ethnicities (more than elsewhere in China), particularly since it borders Tibet, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.  This is reflected at Green Lake, as many of the minorities have storied histories of music.  The key here is to join in and dance, and it’s not uncommon to get pulled into a dancing circle at any moment.  This particular fellow grabbed my hand and then gave Brad a wave. Ha!

 

Line dancing as part of a larger circle with my cheeky dance partner.

 

So, we approach the last half of our studies and then we’ll be released in to the world again to fend for ourselves next weekend and onward.  We’re going to travel to rice terraces south of Kunming to start. We’re happy to head south as it’s not exactly spring yet and still gets chilly enough in the evenings.
Haiku from a Brad:
[In reference to staying in three different rooms over four nights at one hotel]
First it smelled real bad
Next the toilet stopped working
And then, drip…..
                               .
                                .
                                 drip….
                                            .
                                            .
                                            .
                                            drip…
                                                      .
                                                       .
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