October first is a Chinese National holiday called "worker's day". It begins a five day weekend. Actually, because of the fact that October First falls on a Wednesday, and workers are only allowed to have a maximum of four days off, they all have to go back to work on Sunday.
I asked my host what workers do on "Workers Day".
"They rest." He answered. File that under "duh." :)
Continue reading "Chinese Workers' Day 1997" »
Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, I'm finally in the holy land! That's because the shower has a hole in the bottom that doubles as their toilet...
After two weeks of less than perfect circumstances, things are finally beginning to settle down and look up! The weather was unseasonably cold and wet when we arrived and we had to scramble to get the necessary warm clothing and raincoats for bike riding around the city of Kunming. However, in my already weakened state of getting used to a whole new viral culture, I got sick and was kind of out of it for about a week and a half. I'm still sneezing and blowing my nose a lot due to either an allergen, or the dust in the air from the construction near our apartment.
Continue reading "Welcome to the Holy Land" »
There are quite a few public places in Kunming where Chinese congregate. One is in front of the park devoted to the numerous ethnic nationalities that all share the province of Yunnan.
Two Tui Na massage therapists doing what they do, there in the park in Kunming.
Continue reading "The Blind Tui Na Massage" »
In the USA, Holiday Inn is a name as squeaky clean as Sears. It may not be the center of luxury, but its a reasonable place to stay if you need somewhere to spend the night.
The Holiday Inn in Kunming is, for us, a wonderful diversion. It has been cold and rainy, and after a day out and about on our bikes, we like to stop in to the Holiday Inn and sip some coffee in their quiet warm, dry dining room.
They have a massage service that operates out of the top floor of their hotel there. The space isn't actually a Holiday Inn business, but a concession rented out and owned by some other company. In fact, the hotel isn't really even a Holiday Inn, but they have been given permission to use the name.
Continue reading "The Holiday Inn Massage Parlor" »
Being the "laowai" (foreigner) is often times a problem. However, sometimes even problems enjoy their own special brand of absurdity.
When I got to the Kunming Botanical Institutes's Chinese Herbal Medicine garden, I found myself alone for the first time in the week I'd been in China. I sat down in a beautiful pavilion overlooking a pond full of lilies and rested for a few minutes, enjoying my dried mangoes, a Pepsi, and a bag of potato chips described on the package as "the flavor of pungency".
Mmmmm - pungency.
Continue reading "100 Herbs, 50 Kids" »
The Taihuasi Monastery
Here's yet another monastery at the West Hills near Kunming. Mostly, the warmth of this location comes from its trees and park-like setting. Its comfortable, and there's a sense here of a lack of boundaries.
Throughout much of the day we spent in the West Hills, I kept looking off the road for a small trail to follow to a mineral deposit or hidden mine, as I'm accustomed to doing while hiking in the San Bernardino Forest of Southern California. However, at each of the tourist destinations in the West Hills, it is difficult to get past the fence or get off the trail. This monastery doesn't have much of a fence in its back and so it isn't difficult to quietly walk out into the neighboring hillside. Someday I'll return to do that, taking these tours with others who don't share your love of the "outback" makes it difficult to get off the beaten trail.
This monastery was originally built in 1306. Yadda yadda yadda. It was a warm year as I remember. Really good apples that fall. Navy beat Army. That stands out, too.
Continue reading "The Taihuasi Monastery" »
This picture was worth a thousand words, or Chinese characters, depending on how you look at it.
Continue reading "The Kunming Street Artist/Begger" »
Dear Mom and Dad,
At the five week mark of my journey into the mysteries of the Orient, it seems that I've figured out how to get what I need, even if that includes various gestures and mimed movements. Whoever said that funding for public schools' drama departments is a waste of money never had to go overseas and try to communicate without the luxury of words...
Continue reading "How to Speak Chinese, With Your Hands" »