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Friday, October 21, 2005


Chinese visa in hand, Myanmar visa not. That is okay, though, as I will have to come back through Kunming in a few weeks time. I will take care of it then.

Tonight I am off to ZhongDian, on a night bus for the first time since the days in Xinjiang. It should be 12-16 hours, and in the morning I will be in one of the places tagged as Shangri-La, or at least the regions. I suspect it will be cold and perhaps I might be seeing snow again for the first time in ages, being back up in the mountains. I must say a thank you to whoever left the jacket in my dorm room in Kunming. I will put it to good use.

A few things on Kunming. I went to the Stone Forest yesterday. It is hyped by people here as a natural wonder of the world, with karst stones jutting up out of the ground over a 10 KM area (hence then Stone Forest moniker). To be honest, while the landscaping is nice, with deep green grass and flowers dotting the main parts of the attraction, I found it in general not worth the 16 RMB to get out there (and almost 2 hours as I was taking public busses), the 80 RMB entrance fee, or the 20 RMB ticket back on a mini-bus. I spent most of the time pestering people from the Yi minority for pictures, with limited success, although a few consented and one of them, a woman at the bus station was downright the most wonderful grandmotherly woman I have met since, well, my grandmas. We talked until my bus left, she in a soft soothing voice with a smile that never left her face.

The other positive of the trip, such as it was, was driving into the countryside. It wasn't as nice as that in Guizhou, but there were a few highlights. Sun breaking through a foggy haze hanging over a lake and some wet fields. A town where almost all the houses looked like yellow cake icing had been applied by careless children to the roofs, except that there were endless strings of yellow/orange corn on the cob hanging and drying (also giving a bit of impression of houses cum banana trees).

Nearing Kunming, there are also several highways being constructed at once, and it is something seeing them, incomplete, bobbing and weaving and dancing around one another, with tall bamboo scaffoldings thick and complex growing from the ground.

Other than that, I haven't done much. Ive seen the nice clean downtown area. I spent some time walking around the east part of the city, where endless identical apartment buildings tower above narrow market streets crowded with children returning from school and women and men and elderly who look far removed from the downtown area two miles away. I've spent most of my time writing as, in the words of the great Hemingway, I have been juiced for the last few days. Every spare moment, really, has been spent scrawling lines in notebooks or sitting at the laptop untangling previous scribblings. Whether or not any of these are any good is unknown, but I am writing, and doing a lot of it, and I can only hope this doesn't go away.

In the meantime, don't expect so much coming up here.


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Anonymous Sam said...

Hello, I am sorry to bother you about this, but I am strongly considering going to China to Teach English as a Second Language. I don't have a degree or even a ESL certificate but have been interesting in moving to china to teach. From what I see most places pay 5000 RMB/month... Can you survive on that? What does it really cost to live each month between rent food and other costs? Do you have any suggestions for me? Thank you so much

4:12 PM  

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