Saturday, 24 November 2007

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore

Yes I've left SE Asia behind and entered the uncharted teritory that is China. Hekou, the Chinese border town, is famous for the border guards enthuasism for collecting LP Chinas, so I ripped mine to bits and just took the loose pages I needed - just as well, they leafed through all of my books - all very pleasantly done mind, and satisfied that I wasnt in posession of the demon book I passed through unscathed. Travelling in China is definitely different - almost noone speaks more than 1 word (hello) of English, so my phrasebook has become invaluable, along with the LPs Chinese script names for the cities/guesthouses which I can just point to.

My first destination was Yuanyang, famous (in China at least) for the beautifully sculpted rice terraces that are often shrouded in mist. The trip there was really beautiful and really long and bumpy, the road being at times asphalt, dust and mud. Seems like even the Chinese havent managed to build motorways in this part of their country.

Yunnan province is home to a higher percentage of ethnic minorities than anywhere else in China, and in this respect it is a little like Sapa in Vietnam, without the (western) tourists - there were a handful in Yuanyang, and after a day we all knew each other, its a pretty small place. The various groups are beautifully dressed in really colourful garb, and although they tend to employ similar hard arm selling tacticts as their cousins over the border, there pretty good natured about it. So far I'm really enjoying this part of China, though it does come with some less savoury sites, such as dogs being skinned and some truly awful public toilets, and theres a definite increase in volume of both spitting and shouting which takes a bit of getting used to, but for me the ubiquitous smoking is the toughest, especially on the buses. But it's all part of the experience! And the food is good so far, which is a bonus. The vegetarian stuff is especially tasty and cheap, so long as you dont mind the odd bit of pork or chicken thrown in.
I'm now in Kunming, a bright, modern, cosmopolitian city, and a nicer spot than I would have imagined. Theres even a little english spoken. I'm off to see if I can score some warmer threads .. its cold up here!


michael said...

Joey not so keen on your recent post ! all well in BP. marys head now screwed back on again, looks a bit lopsided! love the photo of the paddy field christmas trees going up next weekend
mick mary and gran + joey

Stephen Sharkey said...

Ni Hao Meesta Shaun,

Hope your keeping well mate.

Been keeping up to date with your blog, some amazing pictures!!

I can't believe you're still travelling, looking back through the blog it's amazing the places you've been already and you've still got China to explore!

I thought you were going to stay permanently in SE Asia, your posts seemed to be really enthusiastic for the place. Again, looked fantastic in the photo's.

Must admit to having a laugh at some of your "posed" photos tho ha ha ha stick to the scenery/still life ;-)

My brother was over on Thailand under a month ago and got caught in some of the rains you were describing. He had an amazing time too tho, told him a few places from your blog and he was able to go visit.

Caroline says hi, and we now have a new wee addition ha ha no, not what you think! She's a Beagle puppy called Bella. I've showed her your blog and she licked the screen! Honestly.... ;-)

All the best in China, it's a wonderful place. I've only been in Shanghai myself for a month or so and loved it but I would advise staying clear of Nan-Ding know what I mean... ;-)

Hail Hail

seanmullins said...

Yeah i did think of joey when i saw that scene aleight!

what posed pics sharkey? there allatural ;)