Friday, May 28, 2010

The plant sculptor

Sometimes living in Kunming doesn't feel like living in China at all--my hotel is in the expat area, so I have granola and coffee for breakfast, pizza (made by a real live Italian) for dinner, even the occasional chai tea or glass of wine. And since at the moment I'm spending all my waking hours at the provincial library frantically retyping information onto my computer (seriously, what kind of library will not allow patrons to use the copy machine?) I've been leading a pretty solitary existence--wake up, walk to the library, walk home at the end of the day, attempt to avoid the torrential rain that is beating down on Kunming. Nonetheless, Kunming seems like a pretty friendly place, and in the past few days I've had a few nice chance encounters with creative strangers.

I was walking around doing some errands tonight and came across this guy sitting by himself on a busy street. The photos didn't turn out great, but the snakes and flowers he was making out of some sort of leaves were amazing (as was his hat).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Back in the blogosphere

Apologies for my long absence--Devin was here visiting for a month, and with all of our gallivanting about (Hong Kong, Beijing, southern Sichuan, Kunming, southern Yunnan, back to Kunming) I didn't have much time to write.

I'm still in China, obviously--less than six weeks to go!--but am now based in Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan Province. Yunnan is located in southwestern China, bordering Vietnam and Burma, and feels a bit like a mix of China and Southeast Asia. Kunming is a very green, laid-back city--kind of what Hanoi might feel like if the roads were better, the buildings weren't falling down and the threat of death by motorcycle did not loom at all times. It feels a bit too sleepy for my taste after Beijing and Hong Kong, but it's not a bad place to be based for a couple of weeks. There is even locally grown coffee!

I came to Kunming as a tourist about five years ago, and remember it as one of the first places I ever saw the various wacky activities that go on in Chinese parks--salsa dancing, karaoke, badminton, tai chi, usually all happening simultaneously. Yesterday I went for a walk in the park by the Green Lake, a pretty lake near the provincial library, and discovered a new (to me, at least) innovation--an activity that looked like tai chi, badminton and dancing combined into one. Here's a short video. I might want to be a retired Chinese granny when I grow up.