Sunday, May 6, 2007

Adventures in Yunnan Part I

This past week was a labor day vacation in China- a whole week where no one goes to school or work, and everyone travels! We took off to Yunnan and saw Kunming, Dali and Lijiang cities while we were there. If only we had more time! Yunnan is a beautiful province with gorgeous landscapes and many colorful minority cultures. It was certainly a different China from the Beijing that we live in every day.

Getting there was a challenge. The "23 hour" train ride turned out to be a solid 48 hours, and we didn't know that until we were 3 hours into it. Somehow we passed the time looking at increasingly green surroundings with farmers working the fields, playing cards, and reading the travel book. Leaving Friday night, we finally made it there Sunday Morning.

I figure I'll use this blog to talk about Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, and then write the others later. Kunming is a relaxed city, probably around 5 million people. We saw a Buddhist temple and the Grand View Park that were especially impressive. This is a shot of the temple...

We stayed in the Camellia Youth Hostel at the beginning and end of the trip for a mere 30 Yuan per night. ($3.75) One night we went out for Muslim food because we had read that the Muslim population in Kunming was prominent and there was an entire street with their restaurants and snack stalls. Dinner wasn’t the greatest, mostly because we didn’t know how to order, but we walked around a beautiful pedestrian area later. The buildings are lit up like a cross between Beijing and Las Vegas and everyone floods the streets at night for a stroll.

Right now China is such a fascinating merge of cultures. Everything seems to be bi-cultural, with essences of Eastern and Western twisted together. For example, in the plaza there was a demonstration of traditional minority culture dances but one of the groups did a routine to the song, “Who let the dogs out?!” What? I could do nothing but watch it with my jaw dropped.

We saw the Grand View Park on Saturday, our last day before our flight to Beijing. This was a highlight because it was so beautiful, relaxed and fun.

All flowers were in bloom, and the park was full of beautiful walkways, waterways and open areas. Being the last weekend of the holiday, the park was full of people including couples, families and groups of elderly people.

I thought kids running around in human-size hamster balls were particularly interesting:

We took a gondola-ish ride…for only $1.25 per person. Sure beats Venetian prices! This was our boat..

We also rode bumper cars and the boys did a crazy ride that shot them up in the air.
Just a quick video of the bumper cars:

Adrian bought a kite and we spent hours trying, succeeding and failing at flying it. There were bunches of kites in the air, and the funniest moments were when we got them tangled and had to do a dance with the pro-kite-flying Chinese men to get the wires untwisted.

Other than that, we just made hats out of clovers and got completely sunburned enjoying the afternoon. I will have to write about Dali and Lijiang cities later. They were beautiful and also full of adventures!

1 comment:

Jessica said...

KITES???!!! Stephanie, how could I have missed this experience?

We're SO flying kites when I get over there to visit you, okay?