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14 January 2011 @ 08:34 am
Polo...Marco... China Travel (and Cold!)  
Well! After 2 weeks in Italy and slightly less than 1 week at "home" in Shangri-la, I am back on the road for a bit of domestic Chinese travel. Some of it is required for my volunteer organization, VIA, and some is self-chosen so that I can see friends along the way.

**I will post more about Italia when I am back in Shangri-la in a few weeks, and with access to things like pictures from the trip.** In the meantime....
I left Rome last week Wednesday (can that be possible?!?), flying first to Budapest, then to Beijing (entering the 'guo on Thursday morning), and to Kunming by Thursday mid-day. This put me on track to get back to Shangri-la via 14-hr sleeper bus by Friday (!) mornng... after a mere ~40 hrs of travel. O_o All the same: it was good to go away and it's good to be back. Listen this Monty Python song, "I like Chinese," for an inkling. Yes!, it's somewhat offensive, but also verrry catchy. Click on 试听 to have a listen: http://mp3.baidu.com/m?f=ms&tn=baidump3&ct=134217728&lf=&rn=&word=i+like+chinese&lm=-1

In my 6 hr layover in Kunming last week Thursday, I took multiple cross-town buses to buy my sleeper-bus ticket home, and then to a verrrry crowded train station. When I saw people lugging a washing machine (!!) in the bus station---ostensibly to take from the provincial capital back to their village--,saw a guy just lounging on his motorbike at an intersection's sidewalk, waiting for a friend; and when I peed in a trench: I knew I was back.

Anyway. It remains fairly cold in Zhongdian. Still no running water, unsurprisingly, though it seems our lack of water will soon reach new lows (a.k.a. new comic heights). By this I mean that, for one thing, we are getting very low on the water in the tubs that we filled up pre-total-freeze. Also:
-A few times in the week I hauled liter-bottles-full of water from ETTI to the house to be used in the bathroom.
-Just before I left the house the day-before-yesterday, I attempted to wash my dishes. Ha! What an idea. For a month now the sponge has been like a brick that softens only when hot water is on it; but this time, a tuft of sponge remained frozen stuck to the countertop.
-AND: when I rinsed the dishes (from ladle-fuls of water), the sink wasn't draining. It seems the entirety of the sink might be frozen, and that now, for the next ~3 months, it will be full of 5 inches of frozen rinse-water.
-And, lastly, I realized that the refridgerator doesn't so much keep things cold as keep them "warm," and prevents them from freezing. I hadn't refridgerated the mushrooms I'd bought (because, in usual circumstances and a cold house...why would you?), and when I went to use them, found them frozen solid. No problem, says I, and puts them in a small bowl of water to rinse and maybe unfreeze a little. But when I went back to cook them a bit later, I found a layer of ice across the top of the bowl. O_o This is inside my kitchen, mind you.

For  a brief reprieve I went for 1-ish day with friends to a Shangri-la-area tourist attraction that none of us had been to before, Bai Shui Tai, 白水台,"White Water Terraces." No swimming there, but: when I asked the guesthouse whether they had running water, they gave me a strange look, brought me over to the tap, and turned it on to show me that it worked. So I took a shower!! I hadn't showered since Naples.

Now: breakfast, and then I head east, braving a crowded train station. It took 16 hours (!!!) on the sleeper bus to get to Kunming, vs. the usual 12. On the train today (arr. tomorrow, duh) it'll be 26-ish hours to Changsha. More from there.
Current Location: Kunming
Current Mood: hungryhungry
Current Music: something Chinese-folkysy
wingraclairewingraclaire on January 15th, 2011 03:17 am (UTC)
Oh, man..... we laughed! We cried! We know how you live, and yet we can't believe it!