Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Chinese Odyssey Part 1: Kunming, the City of Eternal Spring

Certain travelogues can be very dull. Just like watching paint dry on your walls or waiting for your pet turtle to run 100m, no one would love to read about what you did last summer unless you are scandalously hot like Jessica Alba or Paris Hilton. Truthfully, I was kind of worried that I will bore everyone with my narration on how good Yunnan was, blah, blah, blah. Yet, I couldn’t help but sing praises of this wonderful province and my first excursion into the land of my ‘forefathers’. However, don’t be mistaken, my ancestors are not from Yunnan but I think this province is the closest I can get to Guangdong province this year, so at least I got to experience the real deal in the mainland for now.

As I’ve documented previously, we landed at Kunming just pre-dawn and was whisked immediately to Dian-chi lake. It was the biggest lake in Kunming and housed the longest antithetical couplets in the world. Please don’t ask me to explain what that means as I’m clueless about Chinese literature and history, being a half-banana and all. Thankfully, my wiser friends explained to me what the couplets mean as I tried to grasped the meaning behind the classical Mandarin sayings. Oh, the joy of having Chinese-educated friends..there are priceless if we were to travel in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc :-) Thanks a lot, mates!

Nevertheless, I had sensory overload as we viewed the multi-coloured flowers on display immediately at dawn and sniffed the charming, light aroma from the blooming plants. The rising sun illuminated the water-lilies dramatically and romantically enhanced the older folks who were practising tai-chi, sword-play and other martial arts.

My poor stomach grumbled loudly in hunger (I missed the breakfast on the plane) while we zoomed on to the East/West pavilion in the city centre. These two freestanding towers are very sombre, ancient pagoda-like buildings and ranked as the one of the oldest structures in the city. After a few hours of sight-seeing, I was very pleased to have an early lunch (which was delicious) and took an afternoon nap in the homely hotel before splurging away some cash on the quintessential Pu-Er tea (the world-famous Yunnan product) in the afternoon.

Not long after dinner, yours truly a.k.a Ardent-shopaholic No.2 (AS2) couldn’t resist the nearby shopping malls and thus I grabbed my friends (AS1 & AS2) and we went window-shopping at the Kunming Business district. This eager beaver even witnessed a fashion show in the outdoors square as we soaked up the culture enthusiastically. It was really fun as we whizzed around town, walking on foot everywhere due to the cold and refreshing weather.

Thereafter, I reluctantly took an early rest at night, being post-call and tired from the early-morning flight. We were to depart to Dali, the capital city of the Nanzhao dynasty the following day. So, coming up next…My Chinese Odyssey Part 2 : Dali, the city of incessant rain.

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