Helpful Links (3)
Myanmar (Burma) (2)
The Stuff that Didn't Fit In Anywhere Else
Stuck Between a Rock and a Hurricane
D.C. to Duke
Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
And Now For Something Completely Different
Myanmar: The Land of the Lost
Heading Off the Beaten Path
Disaster Averted and Paradise Found
Culture shock continued...
From Laos to Bangkok...starting culture shock in 3..2...1...now
A Happy Chinese Moment
Welcome to Laos...where are all the Lao people?
Are We There Yet?; and China redeems itself
Movin' on Out...
Hell is the China Post
Disney China is much easier than Real China
Mainland China, or goodbye English, hello crazy gestures and blank stares
June 22, 2004
Whether we've simply been traveling enough to begin to adjust or whether the Yunnan Province is just a nicer place, we're actually starting to enjoy China. It still has more than its share of frustrations, but we no longer go to sleep dreading the next day. In fact, we actually worry about our visa running out of time before we've finished seeing what we want before heading to Laos.
It's been several days since I've been able to write so perhaps our change in attitude seems rather sudden. We've had a little trouble finding Internet access and I spent the last few days in Kunming sick -- never trust a free buffet breakfast at your hotel. I'm back to feeling close to 95% now and itching to fill our friends and family in on what's been happening.
We're in the Yunnan Province now in southwest China near the Myanmar and Laos border. We spent four days in Kunming, the capital of the area and noticed an immediate change. The most obvious is the weather. It's hovered around 70F here and has been fairly rainy, much like Portland. Second, there can still be found bits of wilderness to be seen around the area. The Chinese have yet to bulldoze and strip every bit of beauty from the land here although they're hard at work at it. Finally, the people, who still consider staring at us as a national past time, are much more laid back and easy going. A few are even friendly.
After our days in Kunming we decided to head to Lijiang, an interesting town about ten hours away by insanely bumpy and uncomfortable bus. Lijiang is probably the most beautiful town I've ever seen. It is renowned for its Naxi (a local minority group) architecture. Canals run through the town and there is no traffic aside from people on its cobblestone paths. As ancient as the town looks, most of it was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake killed more than 250 people in 1996. As a silver lining the earthquake toppled all of the hideous cinderblock Chinese contruction, but left the Naxi-style buildings standing. The Chinese government took notice and rebuilt everything in the old, beautiful way. Tourists started flocking in soon after.
Lijiang is so far a pleasant retreat from the ugliness that typifies most Chinese cities. On the downside, the Chinese are now ravenous travelers and this town is completely packed with hundreds and hundreds of groups of Chinese tourists following people with flags and being told what to take pictures of and what to eat. The Chinese are very fond of ruining their biggest attractions by trying to improve upon them, however, that will be another update. The local Naxi are less than thrilled at their businesses and sights being taken over by outsider Han (the Chinese majority) groups. As a local Naxi man told me tonight, "We hate the Han, but don't tell them that."
It feels as though we've finally begun to hit our traveling stride. Things have ceased to be quite so overwhelming and we've even managed to meet a few locals although that is still quite difficult. I helped teach some conversational English at Kunming and was able to gain a little insight into the youth of China today. I wrote an article on the experience will hopefully be published online soon and will link to it when it's available.
A few more days in Lijiang and then off to Dali, another smaller retreat city in China. After that we're going to make our way to the Laos border and figure out how to get across. We have our visas in order, now if we can just find the country.
Posted by kobb on June 22, 2004 06:25 AM
Email this page