Sunday, February 04, 2007


I've been in Kunming for a day and a half now - it's a pretty nice
city, with lots of trees and plenty of plazas, parks, and pedestrian
streets. It has a great feel to it and seems like it would be a nice
place to live. Yesterday I just wandered around the city and visited
the university which has buildings built in the 1920s which resemble
the ideal university in my mind, not the modern, impersonal
monstrosity where I teach. For those familiar with the U of I, think
Altgeld Hall, not the Foreign Language Building.

Today I went to the Western Hills, grandiosly called mountains in
Chinese. I spent 5 or 6 hours walking up and down them nonstop,
enjoying the views of a nearby lake and just generally being in the
forest. The dirt here is red, like in Georgia, so I'll have to wash
my shoes when I get back to the hotel. There are a number of Buddhist
and Taoist monastaries in the hills, but I only stopped at the one
started by a Chan (the Chinese version of Zen, which is Japanese) monk
in the fourteenth century. The gardens there were really peaceful,
and had it not been for the construction going on in other parts of
the monastary, I might have rested there for a while and read my book.

Tomorrow I plan to go to Shilin, the stone forest, which is, I'm told,
fields upon fields of limestone fingers formed during/after the area
was under the ocean. It's supposed to be one of the premier natural
wonders of this area, so I'm looking forward to it. If I can get a
bus ticket, I'll head out to Dali tomorrow night. If not, I'll stick
around here until I can.

Well now I'm going to get out of this internet bar and probably head
back to my hotel - my legs are tired from all that walking.

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