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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Parents in China

Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Zhongdian and now going to the unknown...

Last week Friday I picked up my parents from the Kunming train station. After they visited Beijing, Xi'an and Chengdu they had finally arrived at their son's city. On Friday, after a nice cup of coffee at our place, we strolled along the water and through the city. Their impression of Kunming was extremely positive, so they totally understand why I don't mind living there :-) That night we had dinner at Hong Dou Yuan together with a bunch of our American and Dutch friends and even my mom (who "hates" Dutch Chinese food) enjoyed the meal.

The next day was entirely arranged by one of Shoshannah's former students who works for the Yunnan government. He wanted to show Shos (and me and my parents) the beauty of his county by providing us with an all-day tour. We got picked up at 8.30 by an nice, big SUV with a driver and guide and they took us to a rose and lily farm where we got explanations and a pretty sight of all the flowers. After this we enjoyed a great meal at a restaurant in Jinning. This was the first real Chinese meal for my parents in the way that it included sitting at the right places, lots of toasting and exchanging gifts. The food and the experience were incredibly nice.
(the Chinese text translates as: "Holland old person"... lol)

After the meal we went to the Anning Hot Springs to enjoy the (too) hot water, a rough scrubbing session and a relaxing massage. Of course we also had another meal there and at around 22.00 we were dropped off again at our apartment. A long, but amazing day (with the complements of the Chinese government...).

On Sunday we paid a visit to the famous Stone Forest. Normally I would be really looking forward to this, but just when my parents arrived in Kunming the weather turned from hot and sunny to cold and cloudy... On the way to Shilin we even had some light rain :-( But once we got there it the sun broke through the clouds and it was nice enough to walk around comfortably. After three hours of looking at rock formations we decided it was enough and took our little minibus back to Kunming.

On Old Year's Day we headed out to Dali. Our bus left at 10.00 and a pretty comfortable 5 hours later we arrived in Dali. Switched buses to get to the Old Town and checked in at our guesthouse. The weather here was amazing: sunny and hot!!! After a short stroll through the streets of the town we decided we had to catch a few rays of sunshine and sat down for some nice, cold beers. Another few beers, a dinner (with beer) and some brandy-cokes later it was almost midnight. We rushed out of our rooms and walked onto the streets where you could hardly notice that it was almost midnight on New Year's Eve... We found some other foreigners and after wishing them a happy new year, playing with some fireworks and checking the streets of an empty Dali we decided to call it the night (for me this was probably the shortest celebration of this evening ever...). But nonetheless, it was a good last day of 2007.

On New Year's Day we took a bus to Lijiang. The luxury bus wasn't exactly as luxurious as anticipated, but it got us to our destination. Over the next two and a half day we did what most tourists do when in Lijiang: walking over the old cobble stone streets, checking out the stores (which all sell the same things), enjoyed the sun (yes Mark, this time there was sun and we even had a clear view of the mountain...) and visited the famous Black Dragon Pool Park. My mother and Shos bought a bunch of scarfs and other goodies and that is about everything we did there. According to me a very nice and slow ending of my parents' visit to China.

I really enjoyed and appreciated that they came to visit me. Now they finally know what it is when I am talking about the great food other things that are so characteristic of China. And of course it felt good to see and hear them again!!!

When my parents left for the airport on Thursday, Shoshannah and I took a bus to Zhongdian. On the way we passed the little town of Qiaotou, the entrance town for Tiger Leaping Gorge, where Shos and I met exactly "15 months minus 1 day" ago :-) Fifteen minutes later the happiness disappeared and made room for a little horror. A tow truck blocked the road right in front of us. We wondered why but as soon as we got out of the car the answer became clear: an SUV broke through the railing and crashed into the river some 8 meters below. There was nobody in the car anymore, but seen how the car crashed and the fact that there was a little fire burning next to the water, we assume at least one person died there earlier that day... After seeing that we still had two more hours to go over, sometimes small, roads with very steep and deep drops right next to them. Pretty scary...

But we got there in one piece and now are preparing ourselves for the rest of our 8 week trip! More news about our adventures will come when I manage to find a place that has Internet. That might be a little harder than usual since we are planning to cross some big, snowy mountains on foot :-)

De groeten,
Ruudje & Shos

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