Winter Vacation

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Winter Vacation

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Kunming….

Another milestone in the travel.
I have arrived this morning in Kunming, in Yunnan province. The sun is shining ever so brightly–it is the first time I have such sun in a month or more it seems.
The youth hostel I am staying in is called the Cloudline Hostel and it is nothing shy of amazing. It opened about a year ago and the rooms are lovely. I will send a picture when I get the chance–and its all for 75rmb a night, which is about 9bucks.
The trip from Chongquing was bittersweet–I was sad to leave the port city that reminded me of Seattle with its foggy weather, but the infastructure was nothing short of amazing. I giant city that is growing by the minute–it was pleasant just to walk along the shores and think of what it looked like 5 years ago and what it will look like 10 years from now.
The train ride was without any issues whatsoever, I am happy to report-although it was a little challenging as the people were not as friendly as I am used to and they didn’t really care to try speak English with me, which was a welcome relief. The only real downfall to the train ride was the Chinese man sitting across from me who snored and spat the entire night. But, the brightside of it was that he wasn’t a thief…
So, that is the excitement thus far. I am happy to see the sun and its Chinese New Year…!

Chenzhou Diaries

There are some pictures below this post….
I will add more to this later when I have time–right now it is once again time to go and eat more food yet again…. 🙂
Congrats to the Seahawks for finally making it the Super Bowl–too bad its in DETROIT.

Journey to the West Part I
There something sick and wrong with calling this adventure Journey to the West, which is a play on one of the famous Chinese classics that is better known as “The Monkey King”, but the fact is that I am headed west and this is a journey, so it seems fitting.
I am sitting right now in the home of my student, Ring’s uncle. It is in a city located just outside of Chongquing. The journey has begun.
I left Chenzhou two days ago in the middle of yet another cold and gloomy afternoon. The weather was dark and cloudy, reminding me of a Seattle winter morning. I departed the University, pack on my back in such a haste that I managed to leave all of the food items I intended on taking with me on the train so I wouldn’t have to worry about paying the highly inflated prices for food that had been sitting around for hours in steel bins that got a weekly scrubbing at best.
I met two friends of mine at the train station who were worried about me because I didn’t have a seat on the train I had booked myself on and I certainly didn’t have a sleeper, which is what I really desired to have. This was to be expected though—as it is the spring festival season in China-which is where the majority of the 1.3 billion people are on the move to get to families homes as work all but stops for a few days for some workers to weeks for others. It is the equivilant of the Christmas and New Year holiday in the West, but even less exciting for the most part. Most of this lack of excitement stems from the tradition of what most Chinese people do—in this way it matches the tradition of Thanksgiving in America. Most of the Chinese I know will be spending it with their families, watching state-run television programs that showcase the country’s obsession with all things Karoke. Hours upon hours of people endlessly watching other people taking much loved Chinese songs and turning them into a shrill, shrieking overly dramatic impression that makes even the most die hard Karoke fan wince.
The New Year festival for all intents and purposes is family oriented, especially for the kids. Children visit their relatives hoping for a red bag—which contains money, which the children do not actually receive the cash, this goes to the parents, who in turn give it to other children who come and visit them looking for a red bag. All in all, the situation is truly confusing.
People traveling for hours and days, just to gather together to watch television. This is what the spring festival appears to be for me. The crowds and the lines are nothing short of amazing—thirty thousand people stranded for hours at the Beijing Train station .
The train I took, one that originated 4 hours south of Chenzhou in Guangzhou, was packed with people when it arrived, yet I managed to aquire a sleeping ticket, which was lucky because I am not sure I would have been able to bear having to sit on my pack for 24 hours with the peasant population spitting and smoking whenever they pleased. The train was packed with people—packed. Bags and people lined the cabins where the seats were located.
The seating area and the sleeper is split in half by the dining car, which for an additional 30rmb charge, you can sit at as long as you like—provided that there is apace at the time. I had little trouble in aquiring a sleeper on the train. My friend Betty had written a request for a sleeper to Chongquing and the woman who helped me was more than happy to oblige.

–NBA
–BIjo and La Jao
–Running around the street

Hotpotting






Journey to the west Part I
Week one of my 33rd birthday and all is quiet for the time being. I am still in China, travelling through chongquing right now, taking it easy as I get ready for the long trek south to Thailand. I will be here in Chongquin about three more days and then its down to Kunming for Chinese New Year and then possibly to Dali and then to the Banna region –known for its lush forests and minority mixes–note:not the traditional China that I am growing somewhat tired of…
Not to mention that it is very cold here–and the North is experiencing temperatures that they have not seen since the second world war. This is problematic. I can only speak for the southern region, but it would seem that there is very little heat in China in the form of centralized heating. There is such a strong reliance on the natural heat–which must suck in the summer as well–Chongquing is one of the hottest places in China during the summer where the average temperature is around 40c. Regardless, my sleeping bag is getting a lot of use and it will be nice to get down to the South of the country and into warmer climates. Having spent a good deal of time in Buffalo, I feel like I appreciate the winter, but here you are almost always cold because of the lack of a good heat–and the marble floors are not much help either.
Anyway, per your request– here are pictures…