Asia travelogue: china

Kunming, China. Southwesterly Yunnan province. Only my second time in the motherland.

Arrival is omenous. Customs officer gives my passport a hard look. Looks back at me. He waves over his supervisor. I am shitting bricks. Officer says I do not resemble my photo, now seven years old; the nose is apparently completely different. This dude hates the ‘hawk and wants to keep me out. I smooth it out, and travelmate Lulz jokes in mandarin of a nose job.

Our airport pickup en route to the hotel casually swings by a house to give his buddy a lift. That’s what friends are for. We find a two star business hotel (Qing Gong hotel?) for $35 USD/night using the local I-speak-the-language discount. No wireless though. I have a dream, people…

Neither of us brought a guidebook. We decide to play the entire trip by ear. She’s the only one that speaks the language. I realize the only way I learn anything is thru her, unless I can pick up mandarin. Isolation creeps in.

A cab driver recommends we check out a “must-see” city site. It’s the Kunming World Expo, a sort of Chinese Epcot Center. $20 fee.

The Chinese government rates every monument and tourist site on a scale from A to AAAAA (5A). Somehow this claptrap got 4A.

We arrive late in the day and the place is deserted. Sky overcast and exhibitions shut down or delapidated, the place borders on a trip to the surreal. 42 countries are on display (an example: Egypt is represented by an obelisk replica and a bush). Exhibits for the 34 Chinese provinces. We find the main circus stage and gawk backstage at the animals in their cages.

In proper fashion, it rains. A cold numbing rain. We hurry to the exits. We are frozen.

The hotel has no heat, and we have yet to discover the province’s preference for the electric blanket. Lulz starts to feel ill.

We eat. Luck unfolds twice: the restaurant next door specializes in local Yunnan cuisine, and one local specialty is essentially hot chickenuyu soup served in an earthen pot.

Lulz heads back to rest. I go to the local market to pick up water. When i return, no one answers my knocks. Pounding. She’s fallen asleep. 10 minutes go by and she finally creaks open the door. She crawls back in bed, stacks the blankets, and doesn’t wake up until the next morning. It’s 10pm and I don’t know what to do next.

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