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Kunming--my kind of town

CHINA | Thursday, 22 April 2010 | Views [491]

The view of Kunming from The Hump's rooftop cafe

The view of Kunming from The Hump's rooftop cafe

I survived my first night in the dorm and awoke to a beautiful day in the City of Eternal Spring. It wasn’t so bad being in the mixed dorm. There were comings and goings at all hours and a guy who needs some serious help for his snoring problem, but I felt safe and the bunk was quite comfortable. I am staying at a hostel called the “The Hump” which refers to the route the planes flew during World War II to supply China in their effort to keep the Japanese at bay. They flew over the Himalayas (the Hump)from India to Kunming which is really dangerous given the winds through the mountains and the altitude that the planes could maintain. I love it! Budget accommodations and a history lesson.

I was downstairs by 8:00am for a morning walk to the train station. I passed through the central square where some older residents of Kunming were already doing their T’ai Chi. As I walked, I wondered, “Where is everybody?’ This city lacks the crowds and traffic of Beijing. It can get a bit congested, but nothing like what I saw in China’s capitol. The people here are so much more patient. I haven’t been shoved once. One guy tried to cut in front of me in the line to buy steamed buns, but I cut right back in front of him and I don’t think that he realized I was waiting too. I was so proud that I was able to communicate that I wanted two vegetarian steamed buns without holding up the line. When I got to the train station, I had rehearsed my lines so well that the lady in the information booth just started rattling off information. I was flattered that she thought I was so fluent, but I had to tell her that I didn’t understand. She looked a bit weary, but she patiently wrote down the requested information for me.

After finishing my trip into the southern section of the city, I freshened up at the hostel (they work so hard to keep the bathrooms here immaculate) and then headed in a northerly direction to find Yuantong Temple. More importantly, I went to find a highly recommended vegetarian restaurant that was located near the temple. It took me a while to find the Yuquanzhai Restaurant, but when I did, it was well worth it. They cook tofu so well that you would swear that you are eating real meat. They even shape it in the form of a fish or chicken leg. I had the sliced “duck” with three different kinds of slivered vegetables. I shocked the waitresses when I also ordered a dish of sautéed mustard greens, but after all that walking, I was famished. The food was terrific and that wasn’t the hunger talking. They went heavy on the garlic, but that’s how I like it. I strolled around the Buddhist temple while my food digested. There were all sorts at the temple today. Tourists, like myself. Young girls taking photos of each other in fun accessories and poses, actual worshipers, and a fellow just taking a siesta in the sun.

The Hump has a common room which is also a café, but no one is pressured to order. There is a pool table, a ping pong table, free wi-fi, and a room for watching videos. It is a nice place to relax without feeling like you have to spend a lot of money just to be there. However, after I took my shower and brought my toiletries back to the dorm, I noticed that I was alone. I reveled in the solitude for a bit and did some stretching. After all the walking today (a good six, or seven miles) my muscles felt tight, and being able to stretch out without any eyes on me felt like a luxury. A lot of the hotel rooms that I have had to this point have been too small to allow this, but not a six-bed dorm. What an introvert I am! A communal place like a hostel is an ideal place to meet people and I haven’t, but that’s more me than them.

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