OFF TO JINHONG

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I’m tired. My body is slightly sore and I smell of sweat and bus fumes. Yesterday was all about hiking, and today we rented bikes and cruised all over this city, seeing it the way it should be seen. Kunming is great because all of the big roads have large, well-established bike lanes, blocked from the rest of the road by metal barriers. A lot of locals do indeed get around via bicycles, along with electric scooters. It seems that China has banned gas-powered scooters in many of its cities, so people cruise on electric models. This is good, as it cuts down on both air and noise pollution. If they would only do the same for cars…

I’m tired. My body is slightly sore and I smell of sweat and bus fumes. Yesterday was all about hiking, and today we rented bikes and cruised all over this city, seeing it the way it should be seen. Kunming is great because all of the big roads have large, well-established bike lanes, blocked from the rest of the road by metal barriers. A lot of locals do indeed get around via bicycles, along with electric scooters. It seems that China has banned gas-powered scooters in many of its cities, so people cruise on electric models. This is good, as it cuts down on both air and noise pollution. If they would only do the same for cars…

I’m killing a bit of time right now, riding on the waves of an iced coffee that I downed in the atrium restaurant of our slightly run-down but cheap hotel. We catch a night bus (10 hours) in a few hours that will deliver us to Jinhong, the main town in the southernmost bit of the province, close to the border with Laos. It’s a “sleeper” bus, meaning that instead of a seat, you get what approximates a small bed. The only problem with these “beds” is that they are designed for Chinese-sized people, not tall Westerners, such as ourselves. The result is limbs that stick out of the confines of the berth, stretching into the microscopically narrow aisles for any an all riders to trip on. These aisles are indeed narrow, and anyone except anorexic Darfurians will have trouble squeezing through.

Before we take the bus, we’re going to eat “Over the Bridge Noodles,” which evidently is a Yunnan specialty consisting of delicious noodles and even more varieties of delicious animal flesh. Sir David Scraggs is a pescatarian (a veggie who also eats fish), so he’ll be sitting this one out.

The food here has been pretty good. Kunming is famous for its street food, and so far we haven’t been disappointed. As I mentioned yesterday, we ate some spicy noodles on the mountain, and later we snacked on small fried potatoes smothered in a chili/fish sauce. Great stuff. Today we rode out of the shiny shopping mall city core and into the narrow sidestreets of the old part of the city, where I hunkered down over a plate of wok-fried wide noodles in a hole-in-the wall joing populated by hardscrabble locals. It was delicious and obscenely cheap, and a great place to observe the street life of this town’s regular citizens. There were old men smoking what I think was tobacco out of huge bongs, a woman with her tit out suckling a pantsless baby, people selling fruit and other strange cart-foods, uniformed men slurping these noodles, old ladies laughing and teasing each other in singsong Chinese. I took some photos, but I don’t have a USB on me and neither does this hotel, it seems, so you’ll have to wait.

So that’s that. This is our last taste of the real urban experience, as each destination from here on out gets smaller and smaller…



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