Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Going around in circles…..

From this post title, you might imagine that we got lost, but this actually refers to breakfast here in the hotel!!!  The main restaurant is being re-done so they have moved everything up to the 21st floor where there is a “restaurant in the round”.  Although it is not moving now, this floor normally revolves.

So, Michael and I had selected our food at the buffet line and then Michael said something about going to get Espresso and he headed off one direction.  After I finished loading my plate, I started walking around the restaurant to find where he had sat down.  What I didn’t know is that he had put his plate down at a table and then walked down to another floor to get his espresso. So, with loaded plate, I walked around and around and around…..trying to find him.  I figured that he was doing the same thing so finally I stopped and waited for him to catch up…..he didn’t.   So I started walking again.  Finally, one of the young waitresses walked up behind me and pointed out where he had placed his plate.  I thankfully sat down and started to enjoy my breakfast. 

This trip will be quite different for Michael as he doesn’t have many contacts at the Institute right now so he is planning to spend most of his time writing on a long review article.    My plan for the time is to get organized for the move and to catch up on some computer and accounting work that I need to do.

Now, you may be saying, but you are in another country…..why are you sitting in the hotel.  There is a very good reason……

This is our fourth trip to Kunming and we have pretty much seen and done everything that there is to see and do!!  The city is not particularly pretty but I always felt that the nicest part was around Green Lake and I was looking forward to spending time strolling thru the area and watching the locals as they exercise, play music and generally enjoy themselves.

Unfortunately, the city of Kunming has decided that it wants to win a “most beautiful city” competition in October and is doing major decorative overhauls to over 50 streets and sidewalks and  to the entire Green Lake area.  So instead of viewing the beautiful lake, this is what you see…..

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As a matter of fact, much of the city looks like this right now!!!!

So, we are using this time as a hotel retreat with short forays into the city when we have a reason to go out.

Having said all of that, we did make a couple of trips outside on Tuesday.  The first was for me to find a store….either a Walmart or Carrefour.  Since the Walmart was closer,  I headed that way. 

At first glance, the store looked tiny, but once inside I found that it just kept turning corners and actually extended for a long distance.  It also has three floors…..the first is fresh goods, the second is packaged goods and household items and the third is clothing. 

I was there to buy a few things for our room, but enjoyed walking around and watching the shoppers.  I loved this couple selecting their fresh chicken feet from a huge pile…..

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There were also huge trays of sausages that smelled wonderful…

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…a bakery that carried beautiful looking pastries, although, in our experience, these look better than they taste…..

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I even found a case containing fried chicken and french fries….

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Many of the items had English subtitles and it was fun to see the “Great Value” brand and packaging.

The book-selling area had benches and many people were sitting and reading books just as we would do at Barnes & Noble.

I laughed as I saw this sight……a Walmart associates meeting…..in Chinese…..

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As I was approaching the check-out, I remembered that you were supposed to bring your own bag to carry-out your purchases so I started looking for a place where I could buy a bag.  After much looking, I started back into the bowels of the store to find one, but passed the Produce aisle and grabbed one of their plastic bags instead, knowing that I could put much of the stuff into my purse and just put the delicate, crushable items in the plastic bags.   I needn’t have worried, because the check-out girl’s first question was whether I needed to buy a bag!!!

At this point I wasn’t feeling really well….fairly heavy chested and tired, so I decided to head back to the hotel for a rest.  Later in the afternoon, Michael and I both went out walking and he commented that he felt the same way.  All of a sudden it dawned on me that we were at an altitude of 5,000 feet and this was probably the cause of our tiredness.  Sure enough, we felt fine the next day.

We walked to visit our friend, A-Ling, and to see the new work in her studio.  She does magnificent paintings using slivers of fabric that are attached to canvas using a glue made from rice flour.  We purchased one of her pieces last year….you can see it HERE.

As we walked, we passed an older man sitting on the sidewalk with his dog, and playing a musical instrument.  We recognized him as the same one that we had videoed on our last trip.  You can see him HERE.     He had the same serene smile as before and gratefully thanked us when we put money into his case.

For dinner, we decided to venture out on our own to a local restaurant.  Fortunately, we had a waitress who spoke a bit of English and she helped us to select our dishes for the evening.   It is a bit disconcerting because they bring a HUGE menu  (20+ pages) and then stand there while you look thru it.  We make our selections based on the photos of the dishes, not really knowing what they are.  Our first was a dish that she said was pork but she was worried because it was spicy.  We assured her that we LOVED spicy, so she smiled and wrote it down on the ticket.   We also selected julienne potatoes and the final dish was steamed Bok Choy.

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…..note….all of those red things in the right dish are hot peppers!!!!

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The food was wonderful and we enjoyed our usual Tsingtao beer….DSC05618

Just down the street from our restaurant there was an outdoor music class going on and were serenaded by the squeaks from numerous flutes.

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The students sat along the sidewalk and practiced while the teacher moved from person to person.

And finally, here we are toasting that we are back in Kunming again…….

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2 comments:

Karen said...

You seem to have settled in well. It's just a shame that you cannot see the Green lake area as you had wished.

Linda said...

I'm just getting back from a trip and I'm going back and reading your posts. I'm glad you made it safely there.
Yes, that high altitude can really throw you for a loop!

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