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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Caught the travel bug 2 years ago I think.

Am sitting at a net cafe in Kunming at the moment, surrounded by dodgey gaming teenagers (yes Yao, they look like your friends), accompanied by nonstop noise of keyboard typing and overhead fan. The rate is 2 yen an hour for net surfing. Not bad, though not everything has been this dirt cheap. It seems everywhere you go people try to rip you off.

Luckily the more you travel the wiser/frugal you become =D. What? bottle of water for 2 yen?! 1 yen!! Bargaining is becoming my second nature.

China is a rude/dynamic shock after 6 months of cocoon life in Singapore. The dirt, the toilets without doors with gut wrenching stench and faeces, the ease at which local Chinese spit on pavements and pick their noses...It's amazing! Funny how I feel more 'tourist', considering I was once a 'local Chinese' myself. Money, it seems, preocuppies most locals. With it you can be anything, without it you're worthless. It's interesting how a saleman's face can turn ugly purple when you walk away without buying, a stark contrast to the enthusiastic warm complexion 2 minutes ago. The other day a woman yelled at me to pay up 1 yen for using a stinky disgusting looking 'hole' that resembled the toilet, a man spit on the floor when I refused to pay him 'fees' for posing next to a normal looking signpost ( where did it say you need to pay?!?).

Luckily not everyone was like this, At least not in the 'tourist infested' areas of yunnang. We met some awsome locals, friendly and more easygoing than I can ever imagine. They were going about their idyllic lives in their picturesque homes, laughing, singing spontaneously and breathing fresh mountain air. Damn they're good singers...*envy*. Despite the lack of facility, they're probably enjoying a better quality of life than many of us living in first world countries.

Yunnang has more minority tribal groups than any other state in China. Our tour group was entertained with different cultures almost everyday. We danced with tribal people around a huge fireplace (did you know one of their dance steps was like cha cha?) I'm sure boys will be excited to find out about the culture of 'Mosu people' from Lijiang on the Lugu lake; where it's customary for men to never marry and 'indulge' in as many partners as they like throughout their life time, while they sit around all day, drinking alcohol smoking cigarette and play majong. While the women shoulder all responsibility, working in the fields while rearing up their children themselves. Girls might be fascinated by the fact that amongst the Naxi tribes, the fatter and more tan skinned the women, the more attractive they are to the men. Oh and Tibetan monks are the most well respected lot amongst the 'Zhang' minority in northern Yunnang (bordering Tibet), though I don't understand why I saw a group of them the other day playing pool and drinking alcohol. I also have no idea why one of them wouldn't leave us along yesterday, begging for money on the street. Perhaps he was a fake?

Our tour group drank absurd amounts of alcohol on many successive nights, we joined in the jokes, ate banquets, the off-key karaoke singing, and shared the subsequent hang-over thereafter. After years of absence it seems, I'm re-experiencing my own culture ;)

Not much to else say at the moment except I'm having a blast. In a nomadic traveller's lifestyle, everyday is a new destination and a new experience. Most of the hotels I've stayed in have been awsome and dirt cheap. Sadly I can't say the same about the food and the local's preoccupation over fatty pork and meat that remind me the animal has probably been dead for a few years (apparently to the Mosu people, 'fat ages like wine' and resembles a family's richness, so they hang the poor dead animal from the living room ceiling for years and eat it slowly)

I can't be contacted for the next month, but letting you all know that I'm safe and happy. Will soon travel overland to Vietnam for some trekking and exploring around Harlom Bay and Sapa with another group of friends. See you all back in Melbourne around the 5th of July dear friends! Yao, let mum and dad know that I'm fine so they need not worry!

Cheers.

xiao ying @ 4:37 PM.

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