Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kunming, Again

The next two weeks of my stay in China were a mix of procrastination, vacation, and stomach flu. When I first arrived back in Kunming, by myself for real after 5 months of a support network of Thai and American friends, parents, etc, I felt pretty intimidated by the prospect of another five weeks alone in such an alien place. My intimidation wasn't for no reason-- although my ISP experience was wonderful and fulfilling, it was also (at times) horribly frustrating and lonely. I wasn't feeling quite up to facing that with no one to text sarcastically to (after a wonderful mishap which allowed us to hang out for a day, Diana went off to Hong Kong and then Taiwan to finish our her summer), so I tried to make some Nujiang resource connections in Kunming (mostly failing, unfortunately), ate a lot of American breakfast food at Salvador's and other coffee shops on Foreigner Street, and took a mental vacation. During this time, I caught up with Kevin (the Thai-American-Chinese Grad student I'd become friends with over the semester), made friends with an exchange student named Ben from Virginia, had dinner with Lu Laoshi, and met John's girlfriend (and John) at longlast, and had Dim Sum with my Chinese teachers/friends.

My Chinese teachers, Gao Laoshi (age 26) and Zeng Laoshi (age 28), who became good friends of mine, at Dim Sum during Kunming v. 2.0

I looked upon the time as respite from the looming darkness of Research Mode, and for that reason I may have been guilty of staying just a little too long. It was so very tempting-- getting to see John again, and meet his lovely other half, was really nice, and Ben and I had some crazy adventures together, going to the Buddhist temple complex down the street from campus and seeing a Buddhist funeral, using the pool at his apartment, trying and failing to watch "The Graduate" in Chinese.

Part of the temple complex down the street from campus

Unfortunately, that was when stomach flu part 2 (which would eventually extend to parts 3, 4, and 5) set in, and I was forced to stay in Kunming an extra 3 or 4 days, as the prospect of being sick on a 10-hour bus ride was not particularly appealing. That part was pretty frustrating, as I was already a little bit mad at myself for procrastinating so long, but there was nothing to be done about it. I spent my days alternately venturing out to take pictures and enjoy the city and sitting in my room shotgunning Pepto and reading a bad John Grisham book. At least I got to take some nice shots of Kunming street life and my environment there as a whole:

Kunming streets

The little-old-man er hu player who always played at the entrance to Foreigner's Street. He just looks like he should be an erhu player. I think it's the fu manchu.

Green Lake Park

Finally after several days of frustration bordering on boredom, after exchanging my bus ticket three times, I was able to hop a sleeper bus to Liuku. As Liuku in the summer is pretty much as hot, humid, and unpleasant as a place might possibly be, I only stayed there one night, long enough to get hooked up with someone who might find me a translator in Fugong. And then I was off again, to the last part of my journey-- thesis research in Nujiang valley all by my lonesome.

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