On Monday morning I realized that we had been traveling for 2 days and I had yet to take a photo……SO unlike me!!! I did find a quilt pattern on the floor of the hotel lobby…..
We left our hotel and took a hotel bus to the airport where we caught a flight from Beijing to Kunming. The flight was delayed for a while because of heavy traffic in the area. A young girl sat next to us who was from Inner Mongolia. She was traveling to Kunming to attend one of the Universities and was studying Japanese. She could speak FIVE languages….puts me completely to shame.
We were met at the airport by a waving and VERY pregnant Jialin. She ushered us to a taxi and took us to the hotel that we were staying in for the night. We quickly organized our stuff and set out with her to see the apartment that we would be renting for the month.
Michael is working at the Kunming Institute of Zoology and the apartments are located on the KIZ compound. There are two blocks of apartments, the first for students and the second for Post-Doctoral Researchers and Professors at the Institute.
It is a 3 bedroom flat with a HUGE living room, and exactly 7 pieces of furniture…..3 beds, one couch, one coffee table, one desk and one chair!!! Fortunately, that is all that we will need!! The kitchen does not have a stove as many people here use a small electric range that sits on top of the counter. Oh and did I say that it is on the 6th floor and there is no elevator!!!!
By now it was time for dinner, so we met Jialin and Professor Dong at the KIZ front gate and walked back to our hotel and had a wonderful dinner at the restaurant there. Jialin handed us the menu and said that we should practice. The problem is that the menu was about 20 pages long. We tried looking at the pictures to decide, but it was very hard to figure out what was in the dishes. In the end, we picked one that we wanted and let Jialin pick the rest.
Our dish was a potato with a spicy dried beef and it was very good. We also had cucumbers in a very spicy sauce, green beans with some root vegetable and peppers and Goose liver with a very rich sauce (we both just had a bite of this as it was SO rich).
Then came the dessert. Now, if you were reading the blog from our second trip to Kunming, you would know that we haven’t had very much luck with Chinese desserts, so Michael and I both gave a wan smile when they appeared. But we were greatly pleased when the desserts had an excellent flavor and texture. They were a fried pastry with a Papaya filling and were a perfect mix of sweet and savory. They would be wonderful to eat at breakfast with coffee or tea.
Even though we were tired, we decided that the first order of business should be to walk to Carfour (the equivalent of a Chinese Walmart) and begin purchasing the things that we would need, including sheets, towels etc.
The store is on three levels with the check-out on the top level so you just keep going up and up and up. We didn’t get a cart at the start which proved to be a big mistake, but one of the store clerks took pity on us and brought one to us.
The first item that we bought was a clothes dryer (something to hang wet clothes on). When we were at the apartment in Rome, this was the type of clothes dryer that we used, so we knew exactly what to look for.
Next came towels and sheets. We did ok with the towels but were having trouble figuring out which size of sheets to buy. Here they only use a bottom sheet and then have a comforter over the top. We, of course, are used to having 2 sheets so we were trying to find a matched set…..it cannot be done!! We ended up with a pink sheet and a white one with purple flowers on it. The pillow cases are a peach color. Our bed will look like a princess palace….glad Michael is secure in his masculinity!!!!
We also needed to buy a comforter. By now we were attracting the attention of several store clerks and they all came over to help us pick out what we needed. One of them figured out that we were buying the least expensive of items and proceeded to point out which would be best for us. Once we had picked one out, she unzipped the bag and pulled it out so that we could see the quality. This is a scene that has played out several times so far.
We knew that we were going to need a bunch of additional stuff, but had two worries at this point…..firstly, we had to carry it back to the apartment and secondly, did we have enough cash to pay for it!!! I did a quick calculation and decided that we had barely enough cash so we stopped buying things and instead headed to the checkout. While standing there we realized that we did not have any bags to put the stuff in and they dont use plastic ones. I saw some garishly decorated bags just above the cash register so we grabbed one of those….it cost 15 cents!! By now I was REALLY sweating that we were not going to have enough money!!! As I stood adding it up while the clerk rang it up, Michael said…."I wonder if they will take my bank card?” So, he handed him the card and it worked perfectly…..WHEW…..crisis averted. By the way, we would have had about 30 yuan left ($4.50)!!!
We carried our treasures back to the apartment and stood horrified as we realized that we would have to carry the bags up all SIX flights of stairs!!! We had an even worse moment when we realized that we would also have to carry our 50 pound suitcases up those stairs as well, but at least we had a day or two before that event and as I like to quote Calvin and Hobbes…”a day without denial is a day you have to face.”
We unloaded our bags and contemplated starting to wash the sheets, but decided that we were too tired so instead we walked back to the hotel and hit the sack!!!
…….ONE day gone and a whole bunch to go!!!!!