Thursday, October 10, 2013

Super China

Super China

After my extraordinary trip to China I am presented with a challenge.

How to revisit China again soon. Such was my excitement at being there I have to consider marshalling funds so I can go again. In a more directed way.

I have different objectives in mind this time.

To visit the Fujian province, the Shaolin mountains, Xiamen. So essentially southern China still but not with the same introductory feel.

South-central Kunming

Here's how I felt in Luolong Park with Yunnanese people. A variant on Daft Punk's 'Motherboard' with Sebastian Tellier.

That is very, very happy.

Dancing in the park

昆明 Kunming


The city has many things to recommend it. The beautiful park at its centre. Dian Chi lake fringed with types of trees I had never seen before. Random bursts of red and fuchsia bougainvillea at roadside. The tangmian, from local cafes. Xi Shan mountain temple.

XiShan View

The view from Xi Shan

I went for the tea and the food. I went because I am insatiably curious.
And I found a people who were really quite shy and very respectful.

I visited Luolong Park several times.
I seated myself by the lake at table and watched families drink tea.
The park, a lake with strips of land joining in the centre. Local people soaking up the sun and dancing in costume to small, ensemble orchestras. No western people anywhere, except me.

Everyone carries green tea around in transparent flasks like we do bottled water in the west. Then they brought my tea.

But first a little more about arriving in Kunming.
When I first arrived it was from the 46 degree Celsius of Calcutta. Central Kunming has been recently redesigned with the help of Swiss architects. The spring temperatures and European cleanliness made it heaven after India. After contracting dysentery in Bihar state India Kunming was a welcome relief if the biggest culture shock I have ever experienced.

Amongst other things Kunming has an incredible tea market. I cycled 10 km across the city in very high temperatures to visit it. It was an extraordinary purpose-built collection of emporiums. Scores of them. Every Chinese tea was available from Big Red Robe, Iron Goddess and Qimen to Ripe Puerh, White Peony and Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun . There was hardly anyone there. Store owners can speak English.

A cake of puerh was 3 yuan say 30 pence or 45 cents. I bought a wooden tea table and a cake of puerh. Then cycled the 10 km back to the centre of town. I brewed up some wonderful Chun Mee, something I was carrying with me in my travelling case.

If you like reading about China and its tea see Guerilla Z's sister site below:

Getting around China is quite tough. At least initially. A youth hostel I stayed at had key Chinese words written out in Chinese ideogram and cut up. You took a word and showed it at the railway station, to the bus at the restaurant. I copied out my own. It took five minutes a word but it did work and the Chinese staff really appreciated it. The rest, chair or sleeper? Hard or soft seat was back to charades. Fun really.

Musicians in Luolong Park

Yuantong Temple

On the move

Detail at Yuantong Temple

Xisi tower

Yunnan province shares a border of 4,060 km with Myanmar in the west, Laos in the south, and Vietnam in the southeast. Kunming is earmarked by Beijing for foreign investment. Yunnan is a powerhouse economy. Count the cranes on the skyline. See the building projects along the Mekong in Laos and Cambodia.

I rode well over 100 km in and around  Kunming. You could stay there a month without exhausting the number of things to see and do. The slightest thing there can be of interest. Try buying a savoury bread roll. They do exist but most are covered in sugar lacquer with a sausage, ham, cheese and/or sweet chicken floss, sweet onion floss. Carrefour hypermarkets have never been this interesting. Then there are the fish tanks with every living species of aquatic life swimming around inside including carp, urchins, river snails and octopus.   Kunming                        

The writer

The writer at seven years old

Enjoy travelling!

No comments: