Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Final thoughts on Kunming

I don’t have much to write about the last three days in Kunming.  This particular part of the trip has been difficult and we are  both glad that it is coming to an end!!

When we make these extended trips, there are three parts to the trip.  The most important part  is the work that Michael accomplishes.  After all, this is the reason for the trip.  Next comes the conditions in which we are living and finally the availability of fun things to do.  We have found that it is important to have at least two of these three requirements for each trip.

Unfortunately, our stay in Kunming let us down on all three!!

Michael has found the bureaucracy here to be difficult to work thru.  We brought plant DNA samples with us that were supposed to be processed as soon as we arrived, and then he was going to work on analyzing the data for the rest of the trip.   We received notice today (2 days after leaving the city) that they are “in processing” so hopefully he will have the results soon!!!   But basically, he has been unable to do anything more than what he could have accomplished sitting in his office in Athens!!

Our accommodation was less than perfect.  Besides the fact that we had to climb 5 flights of stairs to get there, there was no internet in the apartment, there was no stove for cooking, and no hot water in the kitchen for washing dishes.  The bed was hard as a board, as was the single couch that we had to sit on.  There was a construction site outside our window which worked on 24 hour shifts during much of our stay, so we heard trucks and machinery at all hours of the day and night.

We did learn to “make-do” with certain things while there.   We discovered that the comforter that we had purchased was unnecessary for warmth, so we put it under the bed sheet and used it to pad the mattress a bit. 

There was no mirror in the apartment, so I found a backlit window in the kitchen door that I could use to dry my hair.  At least I could see the shadow of what I was doing!!

And as for the city of Kunming…..it is a dirty city with only a few “attractions”.  When we were being interviewed for the job last year, we spent most of our time in the prettier areas of town (and there are a bunch of  those), but once you leave those areas, it is not a welcoming place.

There seems to be a pretense of keeping the city clean.  There are always people sweeping the street and sidewalks, but that only gives a surface clean.  As another example, in the buildings, women are constantly mopping the floors, but I don’t believe that they ever use soap in the water so they are basically “cleaning” the floor with dirty water.

Now our time here  wasn’t entirely bad!!!  I have posted about many of the fun times that we have experienced.   We have especially enjoyed spending time with Colin at Salvador’s and with his wife A-Ling.  We have enjoyed walking around Carre-four and exploring the shopping areas.   We have had some wonderful meals, but only when we were accompanied by Chinese speaking persons.  None of the menus have English so it was impossible for us to go to a restaurant by ourselves.

We have loved smiling and greeting people on the streets and having their faces light up as they returned the greeting.  One memorable older woman gave us a glorious, toothless smile and said “Nee-how” and  then gave us the thumbs up sign!!

But, to paraphrase the old Mac Davis song “Happiness is Kunming  China in my rear view mirror!!!”

….Now on with some more fun!!!!!


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