Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Arrived in Kunming

After a 2-3 hour flight from Beijing yesterday Echo and I, along with her mom arrived in Kunming. We were met at the airport by Echo's 3rd aunt and her grandma. They drove us to the Camellia Hotel where we are staying. the car ride was a cacophony of femal voices in chinese, it seeed 3 -4 conversations were going on at once. It had been a long time since they had seen each other so I guess they had a lot to say. The hotel is pretty nice, even has it's own internet cafe, which I'm using right now to post this.

Last night we met Echo's old boyfriend Nan, and Lvbiao, another old friend at a house party. It was held by a great couple, Jake and his wife, who's name I unfortunatley don't remember. I have to say that's a big problem for me. They all know who I am and that I'm coming, but I have to meet a lot of new people with Chinese names, which is hard. Is that "dow' with a "w' or is it Dao? the 4 sounds, up, down etc, get me too.It's a drag as everyone is really nice but if someone says "Hi I'm Zazahzah," and I don't catch it or get Echo to tell me 5 times and spell it--I'm done. i meet a chines artist named Moon also who seemd a funny guy.

I want to speak some basic chinese before I come back.

Anyway we had a nice dinner of samon and greens, potatoes with some holindaze sauce I think, then we left, hit a local hangout for some after drinks. I had one Corona caue I was kinda' wiped. Echo wanted so badly to get a message, so we went to this message palor down at the end of this doggy looking alley from the bar. This place was run by the blind. I've never had a profesional message before-let alone one by a blind person. I admit, I was a bit apprehensive, and Echo fell asleep right away with her message, I got sleepy but stayed at least one-eye-open like a pirate. Anyway the message was both good and a bit painful in parts as the guy was really pressing down, he was a small guy but his little hands were as strong as a pair of pliers.

I haven't had a really good nights sleep yet since I've been here. The beds suck. they are so hard I toss and turn a lot, echo complains too, her hips are sore. There is no bed like "the heavenly bed" here, nope, traditional asian style, hard as a board, plus I think the time change is still effecting me, I get up at 5-6 am every day.

Today we walked along the main drag and shopped. We hit the big bookstore where I bought a ton of art books, 500RBM in fcat, or about 80 bucks us. They had so manybooks on drawing, way better than almost any book in the states on drawing faces, people, still lifes, cast drawing, you can see that the traditional skills are still strong here. I was a bit like a dog in a suasage factory--so many books to see....and I found a copy of one of Zhaoming Wu's sketchbooks for something like 7 bucks us.

Afterwardswe went to the other comic shops here that was the sister store to the one we visited in Beijing. It was very small but boasted 2 floors, the second being devoted to a reading cafe where you could sit, read and eat. they had a pretty huge selection of books to read. Two doors down was another comics acfe, this one was only a place to read and eat.

We then met Echo's cousin Meng for lunch. My impression of Kunming is that it's in some ways cleaner ( still filthy bathrooms and many dirty resturants)than Beijing and it's less crowded and slower. Like Philly compared to NYC. Or Charolette. There are US celebritys all over billboards and signs advertising all kinds of crap. Store after store, jeans West, Giordanos and more, everyone here wants to or seems to dress just like back home, often the stores have pop music blarring out. You still get hit by a sudden stench of sewer or some poop related smell, and that is just the way it is. the more expensive, the newer, the cleaner things generally are. We also went into an art gallery and talked to the young guy working it who is an artist himself, Echo gave him a pep talk about PAFA. Seems he was pretty dissapointed in the schools here in Kunming.

Well off to more messages, or at least echo will get one. I think tomorrow we will leave for the hotsprings for 3 days, then come back here for 2 more days before we leave for the US shores again.

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