Wednesday, January 11, 2012

But I hate spring!
Days 17-19 of our southeast Asian odyssey

They call Kunming, China the city of eternal spring.  I'm sure you can all guess what I think about that.  Actually, though, Kunming was OK, if not particularly warm. It's kind of off in the southwest of China, and we headed there after finishing our Habitat project and travels in Cambodia. We stayed at the Kunming Cloudland Hostel, which I would highly recommend for location, common area, food, bar, and so on - but NOT if you are planning to stay in a private double room with someone else (you know - it being a DOUBLE room and all)! Because the private bathroom in said room? Has no door. Just a curtain. No thanks, Cloudland. Here's the thing: I could actually blog on and on about the many varied bathroom facility issues of our China trip but I won't because I am not interested in reading about bathrooms on other people's blogs, and I am going to blog unto others as I would have them blog unto me.

So, Kunming. The city is really under construction right now. It kind of reminded me of Phoenix, only more springlike, and more tall buildings. In Kunming, I really started realizing how when you're riding in a car on a freeway, driving around a random Chinese city, it's much more like being in a random new place in the U.S. than being in a random new place anywhere else in Asia - it's just a big country/spread out thing.  Until you see a written sign, you could so be on a road trip in the U.S. pulling into a new place in a state you've never been, but where the streetlights and overpasses and whatnot are never really that different.

High/lowlights of Kunming included:

*The big park - Green Lake Park. As the name implies, it's green and it has a lake. Lots of strolling, pedestrians, musicians, recreation, activity, little bridges, pavilions, birds, people watching. This was not far from where we stayed, and I'm really glad we checked it out one afternoon.

*The Lonely Planet China Yunnan Province chapter needs some serious updating. We had the hardest time finding recommended restaurants and bars, and it could use more maps, too.

*Interesting travelers pass through there, some of them headed to Tibet. I want to be a traveler headed to Tibet next time I'm in Kunming.

*Walking the market between the two old pagodas was pretty visually cool.

From Kunming, we were hoping to do a bunch of exploring around Yunnan Province, but ended up not doing our first choice (the Yuanyang rice terraces) and so the next day we headed south to the small but architecturally cute Jianshui instead. At least the Cloudland Hostel was cool enough to keep our bags for a couple days so we could hop the bus with just backpacks. Although our two-month Southeast Asia and southern-eastern Asia odyssey is an awesome undertaking, the worst thing about traveling for two months to three countries with extremely different climates (winter vs. tropics) and extremely different work projects (Habitat/construction vs. CELTA course business casual, plus walking shoes AND beach shoes) is that we had to bring a lot of different clothes just to cover all the minimum requirements for dressing in each place. And I'm really sick of dragging around my beloved big orange heavy bag.

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