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Winter Break, The Sleeper Train To Kumning

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WINTER BREAK: some entries have 2 or 3 days worth of jibber. Photos for all the following entries are yet to be added. Some of the first text entries will be changed...why? They are boring and were written whilst I had one foot and lung out the door of the Net Cafe...but hey, some people wanted them on NOW!

Some photos were lost due to Micheal Shoemarkers brother being TOO FAST for the damn keyboard so Damenlong (aka Gung Gung) fans you will have to miss out. Judy has about 5 or 6 shots I can use but none of the monks locking each other in the rooms or gung gung residents riding 4 aside down the dusty streets at 3kms per hour with 3 people per bike. Now you will have to visit yourself to get a real understanding. For this I apologise. Not for losing the photos, for you having to visit yourself!

Monday, 16th January 2006

The Xishuangbanna. I chose the Banna as my chosen destination for my Winter break for two reasons. One, I had wanted to return there after my visit five years ago; and two, it's a warm 27 degrees most days at the moment. I had been chatting to several foreign teachers from around China over the past few weeks to see where everyone was heading. For some strange reason most wanted to head north where it is even colder than where they are at present. I happily chose not to follow, go my own way and bask in the sunshine. The Xishuangbanna is home to several minority peoples of China. The main is the Dai People. It's a beautiful region, full of colour and delicious food. One can kick back and relax in western cafes, go bike riding and/or go trekking for a few days. It doesn't feel like being in China at all, in fact you would believe you were in Thailand if aliens dropped you off in the middle of the night. Anyhow, for more information you'll have to go buy the Chinese Lonely Planet, spend some time on the internet OR you can continue reading my travelogue.

Schools out and so begins my winter adventure. After a day spent cleaning my little place and completing Lesson Plans to email to Buckland's I received a visit from KTV Charlie. Charlie is a Chinese guy I sometimes shared a beer with. He used to work at the KTV at the end of my road but this place doesn't have much of a rep with my friends so we never visited there as a group. I'd be walking past and if Charlie was working I'd drop in for a beer, which led to two beers, which then led to a very early morning spent drinking with his boss Marji Dong. Charlie left Tianyang and headed to Guilin. He now attends a Tourism University. I was sad we only had an hour to catch up. Around 5pm I was waving good bye to Charlie from a road side bus heading towards Baise. My bag was packed. This time I was taking my small 25 litre pack, only 3 of each item except jocks. Only one pair of socks as I'm always in sandals. I don't know why I tied my sneakers onto my bag; maybe I'd need them for some strange reason. I always end up wearing stuff for a couple days if it's not summer. Don't balk, we all do it to save room and washing time. These holidays Judy had decided to come along. She was going to head to Hainan Dao or Island but the Xishuanbanna sounded more impressive and would most probably be warmer. It's funny; Kylie and Leeanne both gave us one week before we parted ways when they heard we were heading off together. Unlike my last holiday when I spent time travelling with Kylie and staying in 'nice' places, I really don't care where I sleep as I'm usually out most of the night anyway and I don't use hot water when I shower. Hey, I'm sure the Xishuanbanna is big enough for both of us. I met Judy in the Chicken Shop and we chatted over food and drinks for a few hours. Nine o'clock found us in the waiting area of the Baise Train Station. All occupants were looking our way as usual. By nine thirty we were bound for Kunming, a journey I've taken many times and have never arrived later than 7:30am the following morning. Long distance train travel is one of the few things that seem to run on time in China. The journey was uneventful and I even managed a few hours sleep. For the first time in a long long time I had paid for a lower bunk. There is not really that much difference in the price between the three levels, not enough for foreigners to worry about anyhow, some do so save a few Yuan for beer. If I travel long distance during the day by train, I always get the top bunk (of three) as the bottom bunk is the common area. People sit on your bed, smoke, spit and leave. Too bad if you want to sleep or lay down and read. It's not always this bad, the problem is, you never know when it will be.

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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