Friday, April 07, 2006

The Spring City Delivers...

A quick post from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province. We've fallen in love with it in our wanderings today. It helps that it's living up to its other nickname (The San Diego of China) and has given us a beautiful day in the 70's. But even in bad weather I think we would have fallen under its spell. There is a vibrant enegery to the place, with restaurants, cafes, and nice stores everywhere. The streets are clean and lined with trees(!) and flowers(!) and there are a mulitude of parks to enjoy. And best of all: no pollution, just a clear blue sky with a couple of wispy clouds. Our favorite area to wander was around the university, with a great green campus, a park with lakes, and all kinds of interesting looking restaurants. The only strange note was seeing more westerners in one afternoon than in our first three weeks here. We're so used to just being among Asians that it's very strange to see other people who look like you.

Actually, that will probably be the theme of the next two weeks. We're heading north to Dali, Lijiang, and Tiger Leaping Gorge with the potential for a detour or two. While these areas should provide plenty of natural beauty and potential for outdoor activities, they are unfortunately no longer undiscovered backpacker gems but part of the veritable tourist trail. I'm sure within a couple of days we'll be shaking our heads at the traveler cafes and shunning them again, despite the fact that I would have given my right leg to have found a place like that to eat and hang out in last week in Langmusi.

One last quick story. We got further supporting evidence of our culinary crowd theorem in which the sight of a crowd of natives (in any country) filling a restaurant or queuing up to buy a food demands that we give it a try. We were running some errands today and passed a little bakery stand with a shoving crowd at the counter. They seemed to be waiting for something to come out of the oven with a bunch of bags open and ready. Later when I was waiting in a line, Brian went back to check it out and though the crowd still made it difficult for him to see, he reported that they seemed to be some sort of buns that the people making them (in a non-stop assembly line behind the glass) seemed to be stuffing some sort of red leaf or something into. He was baffled.

However when we passed a third time and saw yet more people we knew we had to give it a go. The red stuff was unidentifiable....cabbage? leaves? swiss chard? what? We got an order of 6 hot out of the oven and took a bite.


Evidently these piping hot soft rolls, whose dough seemed to have some orange zest or something in it (similar to the zing in Hamentaschen for the MOT in the crowd) and who had been brushed on top with a sweet butter, were stuffed with some sort of concoction of rose petals and sugar. Really different and REALLY good. We didn't get any pictures this time but we are hoping to stop by the stand again when we pass through Kunming on our way back down to Hong Kong. If we get photographic evidence we'll post it here.

So we highly recommend Kunming. We could have stayed and explored longer and its the first place in China we could actually imagine ourselves living in for awhile.

Off on a 8 hour bus ride tomorrow to Lijiang!


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