Day 12 - Saturday, April 21, 2012 Depart Jian Shui and Drive to Tong Hai to Experience the Mongol Heritage; Drive to Kun Ming
The hotel had advised Tashi that the power would be off beginning at 7:00 this morning and then for the rest of the day. We got up at 6:00 to take a shower only to find we had electricity but no water pressure. The joys and challenges of travel…
The temperature this morning was 71° and the humidity was 59% as we had our breakfast at the outdoor tables next door to the hotel. Tashi brought us hard boiled eggs, a large sweet dumpling, apples, bananas, and a dish of flour noodles.
We also had a dark red round mystery berry that looked a little like a raspberry, tasted like a tart grape, and had a pit like a cherry. No one knew the name and none of us had ever had anything like that before.
We left the hotel at 9:00 for a travel day north to the large city of Kun Ming. On each side of the Kun Expressway we saw beautiful gardens with hundreds of shades of green vegetables.
A small group of women were selling oranges on the side of the road. We stopped and Tashi bought oranges and then Gennie bought 5 kilos of tangerines for less than $4.00. What a deal! We all enjoyed the sweet fruit for the rest of the day.
We drove on to Tong Hai and got gas and then had a walk around the village where the last of the Mongolians in China have settled. Their ancestors came to the region with Kublai Khan’s army and stayed behind to live.
Many people were not comfortable having their photos taken. We were able to charm them with our genuine smiles and in no time at all we had new best friends.
On the left of the highway were the Muslim villages and on the right were the Mongols. They all seem to get along, respecting each other’s customs.
Not far from Tong Hai we began seeing the rice wine stores Tashi had talked to us about. We stopped to look at the many things the super store had for sale in addition to the rice wine.
Many of the local specialty products were available as well as a few American brands. Gennie bought a package of Oreos, Duane found ice cream, Joanne ate some peanuts, and Vic found some rice schnapps. We all sampled the rice wine!
Our lunch was at the Lian Chang Family Muslim Restaurant where the food preparation was very clean and the food very good. We enjoyed a variety of more new vegetable dishes and of course, no pork, but several plates with very lean beef.
When we arrived at Kun Ming at 2:15, the traffic was already very heavy. The city is huge with over 3 million people and construction cranes are everywhere. There are multiple highways with many fly-overs or elevated roads and minimal signage.
Not only is it difficult to maneuver when you know exactly where you are going, but it is also nearly impossible when one is new to the city. Escort drivers in their vehicles wait outside the city to help travelers find their way.
The roads are very clean with manicured gardens along the sidewalks. There was no graffiti as violators are heavily fined and the paint is scrubbed off immediately. A new subway system is being built which will hopefully alleviate some of the traffic congestion.
When we got to the hotel room it was very warm, (82°) so a woman from the front desk came to check the malfunctioning air conditioner. She then brought a person from housekeeping to look at it. Plan B was an ice cooler that blew air over melting ice but that did not work either.
Instead of sitting in the room stewing, we decided to get out and see the city. The Green Park was a delightful diversion and was the place to be on a Saturday afternoon. Thousands of people were listening to music, dancing, and just enjoying the Saturday in the park.
Many children were working under the direction of art teachers drawing, painting, and coloring. The children had at least one parent looking over their shoulders to make sure full attention was paid to the teacher.
We came back to the room at 5:30 and there was no change in the room temperature so the hotel personnel told us we would have to be moved to another room. While we waited for the room to be prepared we were welcomed in the Crystal Club.
A very nice attendant named Esther offered us a comfortable place to sit and a glass of ice water. Gennie worked on the journal and after 45 minutes we moved our bags to the 10th floor.
We met Tashi and his friend Le, along with Pang Ga, Joanne, and Duane at 7:00 for dinner. Dinner was in an old home called The General’s Mansion. We had a delightful evening and our conversation was very lively.
It was after 9:30 when we made our way through traffic, reached our hotel room which was acceptably cool, and began to sort photos and post the journal.
Accommodations: Grand Park Hotel - - - Meal: B, L, D
Please see our Trip Evaluation -- Click Here -- A Complete Review of Myths and Mountains -- From Vietnam to China: Ethnic People of the Border -- China with Tashi Lamasang
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How fun to taste new interesting foods as well as old favorites - tangerines and Oreos!