We had a good flight from Vientiane to Kunming. When we flew in Maurice was amazed at the number of trucks and semi trailers that he saw in a transport yard. He never thought that many existed in the world let alone in one spot.

The “Triumphal Golden Horse Hotel” was on a busy road in a suburban area near a spaghetti junction. The room and corridor decor was a bit like bad taste Las Vegas with a lot of mood lighting and studded padded doors and oversized lounge chairs. It was very good value with a separate room -complete with 20ltr water cooler, TV and a square table with four chairs around it. It looked like most guests would play cards there. It seems to be a big pastime here whether in the hotel or on the street at little noodle houses or in the park. If it is not cards it is chinese chess or mahjong with a number of people surrounding the players watching them. The rooms were large and for $45 including an enormous (all Chinese) breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet, incredible value! The dining room was more like a refectory with long tables but the food was excellent. We were the only “laowai” foreigners there but it was full of Chinese people and the food was very fresh. We didn’t have the lunch as we went into the city centre on the local bus and walked back.

A few doors down from the hotel in a tiny place we had a great dinner where a bit of Mandarin and lots of pointing got us a dinner of wonton soup, a cold noodle and chilli dish and delicious fried potatoes chinese style with chilli and spring onions. We shared a large beer and the bill came to $3!

Even though Kunming is an enormous city with groups of high rise appartment buildings and ultra modern corporate buildings and a lot of traffic it has a relaxed feel about it especially on the Sunday when we walked around the city centre and back to the hotel. There is a large pedestrian area and a lot of small parks on one side of the long main road.

One receptionist wanted to try out her English and me my mandarin so between us we understood each other. The one drawback in saying a whole sentence in Mandarin is that I don’t understand all of what they say back to me so that can be a bit of a challenge.

We found some other very friendly and helpful people in town.

I wanted to recharge my Chinese sim card and were sent down the road by a very helpful man by mistake to the opposition company. A young guy there come outside with us and hailed us a taxi an explained to the driver that we wanted to go to China Mobile and gave him the directions. Two girls there helped me recharge my phone and a grandfather carrying his grandson helped us to get to the bus stop that we needed.

The locals on the local bus were laughing at us because we both went to sit down in a double seat with an arm rest at the end but we both couldn’t fit our western sized bottoms on the seat so we had to sit separately.

We went into a chemist in the city centre to get something for a case of diarrohea which I had picked up in Laos from I don’t know where since we had shared the same meals and Maurice had no ill effects. Dr Maurice tried various remedies of gastro-stops, gut relief and rehydration salts from his medicine chest to no avail. I wish that I had videod the charades between the lady behing the counter who thought I was suffering from constipation to Maurice’s actions for diarrhoea. We were all laughing in the end but we did get some capsules which had “stomach and intestine” written on them in English. The lady kept saying her three English words of one, two, three so we got the message to take them 3 times a day and after taking 3 I felt back to normal.

Chinese medicine and remedies are very much in use and we went for a morning walk and found a series of streets with every shop dedicated to roots, wood fungus, deer antlers and all sorts of unidentifiable things for sale as well as the grinders for processing all of the dried items. We passed people sorting out coils of something and when we came closer we saw that they were coils of small dried snakes. I was glad I took the conventional medicine! The hospital was just down the road from us and there were a group of people huddled around the back of a small station wagon and they were making room for a body on a trolley which was wrapped and tied up in a blue tarp. The hospital obviously hands the body over to the family to take home. Sad to see but life as it is here.

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