Joe, a gregarious Dai tour guide who hangs out at the tourist haunts looking for business invited me to join him and his family and friends, including a young French couple, at the new BBQ restaurants on the road along the river…the ones we couldn’t find before. His English was great and we shared many ideas. “My heart is breaking with the pollution in the environment,” he said. I told him about Amy’s International School and it’s mission to bring east and west together. Not against each other, he asked? No I said, entwining my fingers. Together. He liked that, as he entwined his own fingers. I told him he had one foot in each culture. He liked that too. Then he wrote a C on one shoe and a W on the other shoe as we laughed.
It is the Spring Festival here and fireworks are going off everywhere. Over 20-40 small dishes (river snails, cow’s skin, river moss and the like) we raised small glasses of beer too many times to shouted toasts…first among ourselves (we women toasted to our beauty…!) and then with a group of about 20 Anhi teachers sitting at the next table.
The next day a German woman and her son, who is getting an advanced degree in business in Hangzhou (SW of Shanghai), invited me to go with them to a small village on the other side of the Mekong River by ferry and then tuk tuk. She is here, like me, visiting her progeny. Her son has been here three years and is fluent in Mandarin…as are many of the Westerners I’ve met here. A group of American high school girls here in Jinghong on break from on a one year exchange program in Beijing to learn Mandarin amazed me with their ability to speak the language…their futures will be bright with opportunities.
I will be glad to leave the An Ya Jiu Dian Hotel, however. It is newer…clean and very nice with satellite TV and a hot and cold water cooler for about $7…and friendly owners. It’s just up the street from the western-oriented Mei Mei Restaurant on Man Lan Lu. But there is a restaurant down an ally behind the hotel…outside my window…that starts up about midnight…with many shouted toasts…and finally subsides about 3am. Ear plugs only take the edge off.
No lack of internet cafes on this street!
And I won’t miss the Asian toilet, if you know what I mean. The shower head is above the open-hole toilet in the floor so one must be very careful where one steps.