2 – Pictures from Kunming

This is the second post of a series of pictures from a trip to China in June 2013. Read the first post here

We spent some days in Kunming, the main city in Yunnan Province. Kunming is called “city of eternal spring” and always have a decent weather.

We bought bunch of sim-cards from this girl and we had such a good conversation so that she decided to give us all free drinks. I found her gorgeous with her big curly hair and colorful style so I asked if I could take her photo. She was got so nervous by the big camera she had to cover her smile with her hand.

DSC_1766A block down from there we found a park full with old grandmas to have a chat with and this cute little girl in a traditional dress.

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We climbed a mountain and entered a park full of exotic flowers and bamboo.

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Everywhere in those parks there are vendors selling drinks and souvenirs. And when the parents are working in the stalls the kids are playing behind, like this little curious fellow and his friends. After taking this photo we climbed up in a traditional Chinese pagoda and took the picture you can see in the header.

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One afternoon we left the modern part of the city and walked into a soon to be modern block. This is something that happens right now in every part of China: entire blocks are torn down to make room for modern houses. The families originally living there are thrown out and left with little compensation. Walking there felt sad, it was so deserted and empty.

Then we turned around a corner and suddenly we were in a garden, and after walking through the garden we found ourselves in an old town, existing inside the city but yet forgotten and hard to reach. Simple families were still living there, the immigrant workers from poor areas far away could find shelter and the kids were playing with old plastic buckets in a polluted river.

If I would come back this will be destroyed and rebuilt too, creating yet another complex of hard-to-sell apartments or another shiny shopping mall. And the people? Most likely they will have to move out and create new suburbs outside the city.

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After darkness some streets suddenly gets crowded and vendors starts boiling, frying and grilling everything one can imagine. The smoke and smells of the night markets creates a dim light. In here we found a tiny restaurant which served us the most excellent chicken.DSC_2091

Kids starting early with English studies.

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One of the last days we were invited to a friend’s home for potluck, music and sharing of life stories. These wonderful ladies were generous in both food and emotions.

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1- The good old

This is the first post of a series of pictures from a trip to China in June 2013.

Yesterday night I was up late working on different projects. Summing up things from the last year, preparing for the new to come. As soon as I woke up today I could feel a tickling sensation. Something starting from deep within my stomach and echoing out into the rest of my body: happiness. It seems like the weeks of nervousness and unwillingness to leave is over and now, now it’s time! I am looking forward to the trip again!

To celebrate this I think it is time to show you some good ol’ pics. Please hang on.

After one year in Chinaland I moved back to Sweden again and started university. It was a tough first year and I was constantly thinking about returning to China. So when the summer came I packed my bags and went. The first two weeks I was travelling with some Swedish friends, and afterwards I went north and returned to my previous home: Wuhan.

The trip became a wonderful vacation, reunion with some old friends but also a travel-detox. When I returned to Sweden life went back to normal but now with a new  peace.

We started out from Linköping a beautiful morning. It was 5 am and the air was crystal clear. The team consisted of two dads, to daughters and one Susanna. As we were three generations traveling together we were often mistaken for being a family.

DSC_1589At Helsinki airport: Father and daughter reading stories waiting at the gate.

DSC_1690We arrived to Kunming in the evening and received a very warm welcome. Kunming is located in the south-west of China. It is a mountain filled province famous for the good weather and unique nature. As we were hungry after the trip we soon went to eat at our friends favorite place.

DSC_1695Every part of China have their own cuisine. In Kunming we ate a lot of fresh veggies, deep-fried kidney beans and a big fried potato cake almost similar to the Swiss delicacy Rösti. The taste was good and it was not spicy.

DSC_1969Me and a new friend.

To be continued.

Eavesdropping in Linköping

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Today I went to two hospital appointments to do a health checkup. If I can prove that I’m not carrying anything dangerous I will get a visa that will cover all of the ten months in Taiwan. As a visitor (holding at least a Swedish passport) you are allowed to stay in Taiwan up to three months without any visa. Quite convenient!

After finishing the second part of the testing I went to finish some errands in central Linköping. Meeting Chinese at the streets are getting more and more common here. Mostly exchange students for the University but now and then a middle-aged tourist group will pay our town a visit.

Guess my surprise when I suddenly run into about 50 or 60 schoolkids from China! They were not yet in their teens and chatting happily while strolling down the street. Whenever I meet Chinese folks here at home I just become super happy. My eyes become round with excitement like a little kid and I will always wear a big smile. So I slowed down and walked past them, eager to hear some Mandarin and hear what they would say about our town. Sure they were speaking a lot but I couldn’t make out anything from the crowd. I wished I would get a chance to ask them why they all came here. The group passed by me and disappeared downtown.

When I turned around a corner a restaurant door opened (yes, it was a Chinese restaurant) and three left behind kids from the group walked out. The boys started walking in the wrong direction while asking each other in Chinese where the others went. At exactly the same time I passed them by and now I just couldn’t hold my mouth shut.

After making some tones wrong and trying again I finally got a proper sentence in Chinese out.  “No that’s the wrong direction. Your friends walked that way, just turn right over there.” The boys barely took a second to look at me and just said a polite thank you in English and started to walk after their friends.

It seamed like  Mandarin already got so well-known here that the tourists doesn’t even get surprised to hear their mother tongue! And we are in Linköping, not in a big city or so. But after waking just one more step I heard one of the boys half scream to the others. “But wait! She spoke Putong hua! She spoke Chinese!” While still walking I looked over my shoulder just to see the three little boys having a good laugh. The little incident totally made my day.

It’s been a while since the semester ended and summer offers few chances to practice my Chinese. Instead I just speak with myself, usually in my head or even out loud if I’m alone. So meeting someone else who knows Chinese and even a native is really something exciting. Especially if there is a little moment of sneaky eavesdropping and surprise in it. To my defense I should maybe mention that I will never become a real spy. My poker face doesn’t really work, so to say.

Now let’s look forward to Taiwan! I booked a ticket on September 3, so it’s only a little more than a month to go.

Closer

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So here we are. Sweden in the end of July, it’s warm in a comfortable way (it rarely gets hotter here up north) and beautiful, the days still long. It is the time of the year everyone takes a deep breath and wonder if this isn’t an excellent place to live, after all. The memories of winter are already long gone.

“You are leaving soon? When? How does it feel?” Everyone asked recently. As always before a long trip I drag my legs slowly, wishing for more time before departure.

Yes I will go to Taiwan. I will leave in September and stay until next summer. And I am seriously nervous about it.