So I never made it out to the bamboo temple (takes a bit of work changing buses and ultimately takes at least 40 minutes if not an whole hour to get out there). So no surfing arhats.But the city itself has been really pleasant and I'd be happy just staying and wandering here. I've come to know a few people who are living at the hostel too and they've been really nice. Traveled a lot too so we've talked about our different impressions of different countries.
Speaking of impressions, I can't help noticing how there are police everywhere and now there's a truck stationed nearby the market I've been walking through frequently. I asked some of the others who are staying here if there's always been a lot of police and they said that it's been that way since they got here. Little police pods watching traffic all the time throughout the city. But I know about some of the terrible events that took place last year and I'm leaving from the very train station where they took place. I also received an email saying to remain aware of my surroundings in case anything happens during the new year period so that may contribute somewhat to my sensitivity to all the police. But I've felt very safe here and see why so many think they'd like to come back and work here in Kunming. Just as in Cuernavaca, "City of Eternal Spring" and my first chance to go abroad in high school, the sun is out and the flowers are blooming in February. It's beautiful, the air is pretty clear, the sky is blue, the streets are pretty clean...every now and again you run into a kid peeing on the street but I don't feel like I've had to look behind myself for advancing motor scooters quite as often as I do in Zhuzhou. I walked out to find Tian Fu Famous Teas and went along Dongfeng and Nanping Jie and found it to be a very different world from the relatively quiet Zhuan Tang park. Zhuan Tang has people dancing, fishing, sitting on couches by the lake, cleaning ears, and getting a shave. Nanping Jie feels more like a busy modern city with tall buildings, international supermarkets and fast food chains, brand name stores, and kids in teeny paddle boats in shallow pools where they're parents can observe them while grabbing a snack. You can find people participating in all kinds of activities in Green Lake (Cui Hu) park as well but there's more touristy merchandise and candy. And people selling bread for the birds.
I'm getting up early tomorrow to catch a bus out to the Southern bus station. The ride to Yuanyang is about 7 hours from Kunming and I'll need to catch another local bus to get to Duo Yi Shu and find my way to the guesthouse. So I need to be sure I'm on a bus out of Kunming by noon if not earlier. I tried to work out how to do this as a day trip but when I realized the ride was 7 hours it just seemed best to spend a few days out there. It'll be a nice break from cities, though from what I understand there aren't really any restaurants. Thankfully, they have meals where I'm staying but I'm still bringing some fruits and things with me. I'll be sure to make the most of it, the train ride back to Zhuzhou is going to be 24 hours long so I can definitely just pass out on the train after locking up my stuff. I'll need to bring noodles...I still can't believe that a small bottle of water cost me 6 yuan when it would be 3 yuan for a large bottle anywhere else.
I know I'll be back in Kunming for one whole day after this excursion, but I think this is one place I'll think back on and remember fondly for being able to just enjoy myself, eat, and hang out with some very friendly people who live in a hostel. And the excellent bowls of mixian here. I think I've pretty much lived off noodles here since a local specialty is "guo qiao mixian" or "crossing the bridge noodles". It's a kind of individual hot pot. They put hot broth with a bit of oil on top into one boil and the other ingredients are on a separate dish so you can add them in really fast and cook everything. It's pretty clever.