01.07.2008 - 06.07.2008
Shanghai was big, busy, and full of shop til you drop malls and various restaurants. There was not lot of culture, though we were only there for two days. We stayed in an old hotel near the Bund, which was a disappointment as most of the old buildings were abandoned and in disrepair. Shanghai, like so many other Chinese cities, is destroying the old and putting up the new, mostly glitzy office buildings and neon lit shopping centers.
We liked Kunming in Yunnan province somewhat more. The climate is good as it is located at almost 6000 feet, but alas the rainy season had already started. We spent a nice day wandering around the University and large nearby park.
And then went to a 1000 year old Buddhist temple, rebuilt many times. The temple was one of the most interesting we have seen in China, full of old ladies meditating with their prayer beads, as well as sleeping and eating on the temple grounds. We were allowed to walk around but not to actually go inside the main building.
After a couple of days we tried to make our way to Dali, some 150 miles west of Kunming and more in the mountains. We picked the wrong day. All night long it poured and was still raining when we got into our taxi the next morning. The streets were jammed, and many were flooded. The city was virtually paralyzed, and traffic was backed up in all directions for miles. After two hours of trying to reach our destination, the driver seemed to indicate it was hopeless, and dropped us somewhere in the city which was totally unfamiliar to us. We tried to find out where the bus station was and several people pointed and then shook their heads when it was obvious we couldn't understand their Chinese. Eventually we surmised the place was flooded, but it was hard to know for sure. Then we tried to get back to our hostel, but that soon proved impossible as all the cabs were full and not moving anyway. We went up to a couple of policemen and asked for a hotel, but despite knowing the word, they didn't seem to understand or know any hotels, and neither did anyone else we asked. We began to get anxious about being stuck on the street and unable to go anywhere. It was raining hard, and so while Nanette waited with the luggage, I scouted around to try and find a place to stay. This went on for some time and I eventually turned back thinking that Nanette might be worried about my being gone so long. Luckily, I found a place that somehow I had overlooked the first time, and even more lucky was that there was someone at the desk who spoke some English. We were right near the bus station as it turned out, and yes it was totally inundated with water.
All in all it was a frustrating and trying day; one of the more difficult ones we have had in China.