Asia travelogue: china kunming

Morning. Lulz survives the night. Hurrah.

Breakfast at a local stall brings hot soy milk and bao zi (steamed buns). It costs less than a dollar.

The other major sight in Kunming is Shuilin (Stone Forest), a dramatic upcropping of one-time ocean floor rocks. Nat’l Rating: AAAAA.

The Shuilin stones are beautiful, but the artifice of its surroundings kills it for me. There are grass lawns, installed pagodas, huge paved pathways. It’s more a zoo than a safari.

The Chinese conception of ‘tourism’ is wholly fixed on the tour group, and has no tolerance for independent travel. The result is that tourist sites must be capable of handling the onslaught of tour groups, and these accommodations tend to destroy any naturalistic tint a site might have.

Back in town, I realize Yunnan is colder than I packed and shop for a warmer jacket. Given contemporary Chinese male fashion, I have only three rules: no feathered hoods, no glitter, no English words. New coat bought for $35 with 60% off thanks to slowing Chinese economy.

Sleeper bus to Lijiang. Generally, there are good times and there are bad times to learn that a city has four different bus station annexes. We run thru the streets of Kunming, yelling at street vendors to point the way to the correct station. It’s frantic. Lulz almost loses her cool but we make it.

A sleeper bus is great in theory but “never again” in practice. Moving around the bus makes you feel like a tetris piece. Kept like a meat locker, the only option for warmth is dirty blankets covered with pastel Chinese cartoon characters. We claim 2 spots in the back, where soon after a family complete with crying baby alights. The man next to us puffs a cigarette. It is his third. The en route entertainment begins: The Rock dubbed. Nicholas Cage’s overacting translates well into Mandarin. Plastic or GLASS. I am going to assume you don’t want to hear about the public rest stops.

Day 2 ends in a smoke-filled torpedo hurtling down a Chinese highway, jolted awake from a cold dirty slumber every few minutes, then lulled again by the crescendo of electric guitars in The Rock soundtrack.

Google: “lijiang Kunming flight”

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