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Kunming

Kunming, Kunming..hmmm what did I do in Kunming

sunny 31 °C

Writing this ages later so probably have forgotten half of it. I was only really planning on hanging around Kunming for a night on the way to do the Tiger Leaping Gorge, but Kunming was lovely and pleasant with clean streets, clear blue skies and lots of sunshine. The hostel was pretty neat too and had a pool table and ping pong!

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There's not a helluva lot to do in the city though. I went to the Art Loft but there was bog all there, except 2 gallerys, 1 had 2 pictures in it, the other had maybe 10. Hmmmm I thought. That was a bit meh.

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So continued on to the shopping district and window-shopped in the fancy shops. Then went to the Flowers and bird market where all sorts of people were selling birds, flowers, dogs, cats and other bits and bobs. I felt a bit sorry for the cats and dogs as they were in tiny glass cages just waiting for people to buy them.

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After a few more hours exploring the town,

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I had enough walking and went back to my hostel to get my free beer. A young handsome Portuguese fellow named Joao came along and we had a grand auld chat outside watching some Americans and Chinese lads playing bad Ping Pong. Joao works with software and special effects and worked on all sorts of cool movies. OOOOOH. Nice going. He quit his job and is out to travel for as long as he can. He was a lovely, friendly funny chap and we got along great.

That night when I got to my dorm, there was a weird old German dude in the bed opposite me. He had his trousers on Simon Cowell stylee and his moobs out. I got quite a fright when he started mumbling at me as I thought the room was empty! I dind't understand what he was saying, but then he started talking English and saying ''Can you leave the door open please?... hmmm.. I was like ''eh ok.. but why?''. He explained he was having difficulty with his door card. I wondered was he even staying here or did he just mosey in off the mean streets of Kunming every night looking for an empty dorm to stay in. Anyways I was pretty happy when two more girls came in anc occupied the other beds.

Joao had been invited to lunch the next day by a lovely little Chinese lady - who we shall call Wu for short, (her name means Beauty of the Sea) so I tagged along as well. Wu brought us off on the bus to her friends house / restaurant. Her friend feeds people for free at his restaurant every day! Breakfast, lunch and dinner! So we were quite excited to be invited along for a free, local, delicious, vegetarian dinner! nom. We sat down with the owner, his friend and Wu, at a big round table with a lazy Susan on it chock full of delicious interesting treats - rice, vegetables, sticky rice in banana leaves, mushrooms and lots of other scrumptious delights.
The owner had an awesome gaff, with lovely polished wooden furniture, a giant tea-pouring desk and stacks of books about Buddhism and Mother Teresa etc.

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He also gives the books away for free and just asks that people pay the kindness forward to others. It was a really interesting place and we pondered how on earth this guy could afford to feed people and give away al the stuff for free. Wu hadn't even thought of that, so I'm afraid we planted seeds of curiousity in her mind! Oops

After dinner, the owner gave us free hemp nuts, which are apparently delicious, expensive and help you live to the ripe old age of 108. Yahoo! He gave us a packet each, which was a bit much considering they were so expensive. Plus we couldn't keep it refrigerated! But we didn't want to seem ungrateful so we took the free hemp. On the bus on the way back, we gave 1 of the packs to Wu. She was delighted, as she couldn't afford to buy the stuff herself. She said they would help her sleep as she had a hard time sleeping these days. She was so lovely! Anywho, we bid her good day and got our stuff. Joao had decided to come to Lijiang too, whoop! ROAD TRIP. So off we went to head for the epic sleeper bus. I wasn't really looking forward to the bus as I never find buses that comfortable. I much prefer the trains. You can move around and I sleep like a baby on them! : ) Wasn't sure how I'd handle 12 hours on a feckin bus!

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Soon as we got on the bus, I met another handsome lad - a young Dutchman named Stefan was in the sleeper next to me. More chums! Wahoo! Stefan had finished a law degree and was out travelling for as long as he liked as well, while he was still youngish. ; ) Well Jell. He'd already hitchhiked a lot of the way down from The Netherlands - quite impressive. Anyways he was a funny chap and we waffled away for a while. The bus wasn't too bad at all actually. The driver did have a gross habit of snotting out the window every 5 minutes which was kinda funny. The journey wasn't particularly comfy but I got a couple of hours sleep and I'm even writing this on the return sleeper bus from Lijiang to Kunming so elected to take the bus again (no choice really!).

Posted by squeakylee 02:50 Archived in China Tagged bus kunming sleeper hemp chums Comments (0)

Back to Kunming

KINGDOM OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE!

sunny 32 °C

Got my visa extension sorted in 1 day with the help from a lovely girl called Shin from the hostel. Then I boarded the night bus to Kunming. This bus was unpleasant. There seemed to always be a smell of something gross, either piss or smoke, and I kept rolling towards the middle of the bus so I was tres uncomfortable and couldn't sleep much. I read my kindle until it died then saw the most awesome electrical storm ever with whopper thunder and lightning everywhere.
Got a few hours kip and woke up in a different Kunming bus station than I'd arrived at the last time so was totally confused. My phone was dead and my kindle was dead and I didn't have the hostel address written in Chinese so felt a bit fecked. I knew I could always go back and stay in Cloudland hostel if I could find it again, but I had booked into Upland hostel so felt I should at least try and find that place first.

A young Chinese man took pity on me and escorted me all the way to my hostel via the bus and walking a while out of his way! Another example of Chinese kindness. :) Awwww - so nice!! Once I'd checked in, I wanted to go straight to bed but there were no sheets on it and the room hadn't been cleaned yet, so I took a shower, ate a mega breakfast and decided to go to the DWARVE'S EMPIRE - i.e. KINGDOM OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE in Kunming.

An English lad I met had told me about this place that is populated only by little people who had been ostracised or neglected by the Chinese Government and society, so had decided to set up their own community. Now it is, in essence, a theme park, and the lads perform a few times a day for tourists; singing, dancing and breakdancing etc. So obviously this type of theme park has attracted much controversy. A lot of people are of the opinion it's exploitation and shouldn't be allowed to continue. Now I'm sure performing daily for tourists is not exactly what these little people want. I reckon they would appreciate well paid jobs, and respect from normal Chinese society, however that's not the way China works. They maintain no one will give them jobs and people judge them and treat them differently. It seems this is as good as it gets for these lads. They are paid well, they live together in a non-judgemental society of their own people and are getting on with life.

I was unsure whether or not to go to the park as I wasn't sure if going increases the exploitation of the little people? or if a visit gives them the chance to earn a few bob? However when I heard that the King of the Little People rides a tiny 3-wheeled motorbike and wears a gold silk cape, all reason went out the window. I had to go!! :D

I asked the girls in reception how to get there (I'm still not sure exactly where it was) and they told me to get 2 buses and a minibus. I couldn't find the first bus so walked to where the 2nd bus should be. I hopped on it, instantly fell asleep and missed the stop where I was supposed to get off. Oops. I got off somewhere in the middle of nowhere that still managed to have lots of taxi touts. 1 taxi dude wouldn't leave me alone and wanted 100 yen to bring me to the Empire. I told him to bog off and bought an icecream from a guy who pointed me towards some small minibuses down the street. A bossy lady shoved me on to the bus near the front and off we went.
The bus driver kept taking his eyes off the road to turn around and stare at me. I was like - ''arrrrghhh - watch the feckin road!!''

Anyways so the bus dumps me off at a fork in the road with a sign that has a butterfly on it and another sign that has the Chinese characters that match the one on my piece of paper (the reception girls had written it out for me) spelling out Dwarf Kingdom. I didn't know how far away it was though. hmmmm I decided to walk a bit even though it was ROASTING and I'd blow dried my hair. (THE ONE TIME!! ;) ) Anywho then some old dude offered me a lift up the road but wanted money. I bargained him down to a couple of euro and off we went. I was so glad I got the lift. The road was endless (well obviously it did end eventually), and was pretty windy and deserted.

I got to the theme park and there was a whole group of Chinese Female tourists there who were all dressed the exact same. It was weird. They seemed to all leave as as soon as I got there, which made me pretty much the only visitor there. :D LOL . There was a small butterfly park attached to the theme park so decided I'd wander into it. It took all of 10 minutes to admire the nice flowers and butterflys. There was a good view of the Kingdom up on the hill though.

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Then I walked up a deserted road to a practically deserted arena with an empty stage, lots of benches in front of it, some hard seating at the back (all empty too) and a host of fabulously fake mushroom houses behind the stage.

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There were a few stalls around the place selling ice cream and trinkets. ''Hmmm'', I thought, ''this is rather grim!''
I wandered in and out of the mushroom houses and Ni'Hao'd a few tiny people walking around the place, then went up to the big castley thing to have a look, but there was no-one really there either.

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''Hmmmm'' - Nothing was happening, there was no one performing, and everyone seemed to be having a siesta. I was the only one there. I sat around eating an icepop for a while thinking about Life and Travels and What Indeed had led me to this place. Yes - it was my own twisted sense of what was awesome that led me here. It didn't quite seem so awesome now though. After an hour, I was still the only tourist in town and was becoming a mini celebrity myself around the place. I decided to call it quits and head back to my hostel, when all of a sudden I heard someone on a microphone!! Then a small trolley load of tourists went by me back up the hill!
''Wooohooo!!'', I thought, ''the show might still go on!''
Annnnd it nearrllly did. But then it didn't.
I bought another icepop (I was starving at this stage) and sat with the 10 other Chinese tourists who'd arrived. I played basketball with a tiny kid and generally waited for the magic to happen!

AND IT DID! Although admittedly not for another hour. We were all herded around the corner to see a small man climb a very tall ladder. LOL. Then 2 small men rode around a big cage on motorbikes! These lads didn't look happy at all but it was very impressive. After this we were brought back to the main arena for a magnificently LOUD Cabaret Show.

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All the little people came out on to the stage steps at the start.

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They were introduced by 2 TINY people, who must have been children. Then the fun started. A group of little people dressed as cavemen and cavewomen came out and did a thunderous dance, a small man with big lungs belted out a whopper of a tune, another small man bumped and grinded and breakdanced his way around the stage to 2 Unlimited's - No Limits. He was bustin' some moves, and was definitely eyeing me up as he did his sexy grinding and booby touching! ;) The King also appeared, flanked by his two guards, and there was a big speech, but I didn't understand a word of it.

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Then after this, a guy walked and ran across a tight rope with no safety net underneath! There was more singing and dancing and it all ended with the lads out on stage again. I was disappointed the King didn't ride the motorbike but ye can't have everything!

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All in all - what an evening! What a show!! I am definitely glad I went and I thought most of the lads there looked very happy and content. They were all laughing and joking and smoking and forgetting their cues to go onstage and then slagging each other off and stuff. It all looked very jovial. :)

I got a minibus back to Kunming,

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and stuffed my face with noodles at the bar while some Englishman kept drumming his fingers on my table til I acknowledged and spoke to him.

I also decided this evening to go to Bali for the next leg of my trip and booked a flight for next week. Bali will do sure. ;) Be nice to have a proper holiday holiday.. :D
Can't wait to feel the hot sand through my fingers!

Posted by squeakylee 01:55 Archived in China Tagged people little kingdom kunming empire dwarves Comments (0)

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