The nicest guy in China

Kunming Travel Blog

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One of the strange statues at the Bamboo Temple. (This was not one of the life-like ones I described in my post.)

Well, my stomach started feeling a little off last night, and so I started taking my antibiotics.  So far, so good!  I'm afraid to eat anything spicy though, which is kind of a bummer.  That better end before I get to Chengdu!

Have I mentioned that my hostel room is unbearably hot?  My roommates are all Chinese men, and for some reason they feel we need to close the doors to the balcony (the only source of ventilation) every night.  There may be some practical reason, but damn does it get hot in there!  I woke around 2:30 this morning and really couldn't get back to sleep.  The fact that my arms are severely sunburned probably contributed to the problem.  I won't be forgetting the sunblock again any time soon.

I finally get up around 6:30 and had breakfast at the hostel.

Me and a dog who felt like being photographed.
  I haven't found as much street food here as I saw in Beijing.  So eating has been more expensive than I was planning.  I'm going to have to work on that in the other cities.  But it is worth the $1.25 to get fresh ground coffee with the food.

After that I decided to visit another temple, the Bamboo Temple.  This one is up in the hills outside of the city.  My guidebook said I could catch a minibus outside a hotel a quarter mile away, so I walked over there.  But when I got there I discovered that the hotel was on a huge intersection, and there really was no obvious location.  So I started going up to random people and saying in Mandarin "I want to go to this place", and pointing to the words printed on my Lonely Planet pages.

At the Bamboo Temple.
  (I just tore the relevant pages out and took them with me.)  This method of inquiry had a major flaw--they understood what I was asking, but I had no idea what they were saying in response.  So I would stare blankly at them for a few seconds, and then follow the direction in which they pointed.  This led me around the block a couple times, on either side of the streets.  Then I asked a young man the question.  When he realized that I couldn't understand his response, he thought for a minute, and then said "ok, follow me" in English.  He spoke only a few words of English, about in line with my level of Mandarin.  We both got on a bus and rode it for several stops.  Then he motioned for me to get off.  (This is the point where I realized that he was actually leading me--it wasn't a coincidence that we were on the same bus.
More candles, on a smaller scale.
)  When we got off he started at the new bus stop timetable for a few minutes.  Then he called someone for help.  A few minutes later he told me he had made a mistake, and we should not have gone that way.  He then proceeded to spend about 45 minutes taking me on 4 different buses to get me back to the proper location to pick up the minibus.  He also paid for me on each bus.  I think he felt bad that he had led me the wrong way originally.  I felt bad that I had caused him to go so far out of his way, but he was determined to see me to the right place.  Once we got there, I thanked him profusely and he said in English "enjoy your stay in Kunming".  Then he took off running, probably late for whatever he had planned to do before the crazy white girl hijacked his morning.
Part of the temple structure.
  I won't forget that kindness, and will try to pay it forward with visitors to Indianapolis.

On the minibus I ran into another hostel guest I had met yesterday while writing my blog entry at the computers.  His name is Frans, and he is from the Netherlands.  The minibus had to go through a path that had been cleared for a road, but the road had not yet been built, so it was pretty bumpy at times.  We arrived at the Bamboo Temple and spent about an hour exploring it.  The location is up in the hills, but there were so many trees that I couldn't get a good picture of the hills in the background.  There were several cats and a dog roaming around.  You'll see the dog in the photo of me.    This temple is known for its lifelike statues of the monks in different postures and attitudes.

The temple toilets. Those are just holes that go down the hillside. A little stinky, but I have to say it felt cleaner than any US outhouse I've been to. Squatting has its advantages.
  They were actually a little creepy, but photos of them were not allowed so you won't see them here.  Then we were much more successful finding a minibus to take us back to the bus stop, and caught a regular bus back to the hostel.  At the bus stop we bought some fresh pineapple, which I normally don't like that much, but this was excellent!  (Stephanie, I thought of you as I ate it.)  Right before the vendor handed them to us he dipped them into a big bucket of cloudy water.  Thank goodness for those antibiotics!

Later today I'm going to head out to a couple of minor pagodas in the city that are supposed to be good for people watching.  Tomorrow I head on to Dali.  I still need to eat the local specialty here, "across the bridge noodles", so I plan to do that tonight.  Hope to post again tomorrow from Dali!

jethanad says:
Nice write-up, really enjoyed it. You have helped erase some of the fear in me of going to China.

Thank you
Posted on: May 25, 2010
jenmarie77 says:
Hi. I recommend spending some time in advance using the Pimsleur CDs. They work really well for teaching the basics, and the pronunciation is really hard to get from a book. The only hard part is trying to understand the responses you get!
Posted on: May 16, 2010
dallastexas says:
Though I haven't been to China, thank you for the write up. I will be taking a translator (book or electronic gadget) hopefully with me unless you suggest otherwise. BTW, excellent write up.
Posted on: May 16, 2010
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One of the strange statues at the …
One of the strange statues at the…
Me and a dog who felt like being p…
Me and a dog who felt like being …
At the Bamboo Temple.
At the Bamboo Temple.
More candles, on a smaller scale.
More candles, on a smaller scale.
Part of the temple structure.
Part of the temple structure.
The temple toilets.  Those are jus…
The temple toilets. Those are ju…
The common area at the Hump Hostel…
The common area at the Hump Hoste…
In the Hump lounge--there is actua…
In the Hump lounge--there is actu…
One of the Kunming pagodas
One of the Kunming pagodas
The other pagoda.
The other pagoda.
photo by: eefab