Hard to believe I was in Beijing for two weeks. But you know what they say about stinking guests if they stay too long. So today I flew to Kunming in Yunnan Province in the south of China. Stewardess announced that the flight would take 3.5 hours to go 200 kilometers. I figured there was something wrong there…think she meant 2000 kilometers. Warmer than Beijing but still damn cold…39 degrees F. Had hoped for it to be warmer this far south. Might have to keep on going.
But before I could get to the plane, I had an adventure! Got out of the taxi at the airport and walked around to the back of the car to get my backpack out of the trunk. Then I’ll be damned if the driver took off like a shot with me flapping my arms, running and yelling after him in the middle of the road…to no avail. A nice taxi was coming up behind me…told me to get in…he ran the first taxi down to get him to stop. Boy…woke me up! The driver was just stupid! Didn’t even know why we were pulling him over until we got him stopped and pointed to the trunk! My rescuer kindly refused money. Travel tip: don’t get out of a taxi, if you have baggage in the trunk, until you see the driver getting out too!
I’m in the Camellia Hotel where I stayed both in 2003 and 2004. Great buffet breakfast comes with the room…$28 a night. Couple bars, internet cafe…mostly lauwai (same as gringo only it’s what the Chinese call anyone not from China). There’s a hostel here too…but mostly with twenty-somethings and I want my peace and quiet so I have my own room in the main building. Channel TV Asia is the only English language station but I get most of the world news….as if I needed it. Announcers have a British accent…think it’s operated by Reuters.
Same cafe down the street but with a different name…Chinese and western comfort food…but now with free WiFi. Around the corner is MaMa Fu’s Cafe…hot and sour noodle soups. And next door is a big noodle shop with Over The Bridge Noodle Soup…platter of meat and vegetables comes to the table and you drop the food in and it cooks in the still hot broth…indigenous Yunnan style soup.
No colorful minority peoples selling things in the street now. Guess it’s either too cold or the government has banished them.
I really like the neighborhood here…with a market nearby. A group of crazy Europeans are biking China in this cold…bicycles all parked in the street in the front of a sports clothing shop while they make repairs…older Chinese men stopping by to peer at the loony western barbarians.