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April 3rd 2010
Published: April 5th 2010
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Kunming was my first taste of a Chinese city, though a small one by Chinese standards with a population of about three million. It has a pretty warm climate and is the hub and capital of Yunnan province. The nice thing about it was it wasn't as polluted as many other cities in this country but still had a fair bit of traffic during rush hours.

My first two days here were spent almost entirely in the can with explosive diarrhea, with plenty of movies in between supplied by the hostel when I wasn't emptying my insides. I must have watched about eight movies in about two days time. I had anti-diarrhea pills in my bag but I wanted all the bad bacteria to clear out so I let it flow. By the third day I was able to begin walking out of the hostel and exploring Kunming. I met this guy from Toronto named Al and we walked to the Green Lake in the center of Kunming. I had to force myself to eat at this point as my appetite had completely disappeared.

I took the next day easy too but slowly I was feeling better and my hunger resumed. I visited Wal-Mart, Chinese version, which like it's North American counterpart sells everything imaginable, but caters most of its products to the Chinese. I saw the weirdest things in that place, yet it seemed familiar at the same time, especially the signs that voiced "saving you more everyday!" I was also playing a lot of ping pong in the common area of the hostel.

Next day I went with a few others to the Dwarf Kingdom, which as the name suggests, is a "kingdom" inhabited by dwarfs. Something like this might not exist in western societies due to major complaints but in China these people can't get many jobs and congregate together by choice so they can have better quality of life, and of course, earn some money. I was a bit skeptical of the whole thing but curious as well. We departed on some local buses and went about an hour south of Kunming into some hilly areas. There was nice scenery to be viewed along the way. We arrived and headed up to this "tree of life", which was simply a giant tree model made of fiberglass. The security guard insisted it was real...We hiked down from there and entered the Kingdom, first visiting a butterfly sanctuary. Sadly as the weather was too cool to support butterfly's at this time, the whole place was empty.

On to the dwarf kingdom. Upon entering we were overwhelmed with dwarves coming from every direction. It turned out they were actually schoolchildren on fieldtrips to this place and not actually full fledged dwarves. They seemed excited to see us though, and kept shouting "hello!" We got to the main section of the kingdom and finally, yes, we saw a legion of dwarves. Of all ages, styles, sizes (they were all still small but to varying degrees). They didn't really do much and all seemed to live there in their mushroom huts but there was a show starting in a short while so we hung around and got some food. Then I noticed there were "dwarf" motorbikes and excitedly asked to ride one. They agreed and, after filling some petrol into one, I was off, buzzing around with my knees flailed outwards, attempting not to crash. It was the highlight of my day.

We walked through the mushroom huts and the dwarf sanctuary, which looked more like an abandoned outpost, and had pits inside seemingly to throw dwarves in so they wouldn't be able to crawl out. The performance started soon after and included various dwarf singing, dancing, magic tricks and stunts. Some was alright but overall not very impressive. Having had my fill of everything dwarf, we departed back to Kunming.

That evening I went out with the same people. We had met two expats while in the kingdom and they invited us to this bar on Foreigners Street. We arrived and met some other expats as well, one of them was actually from Montreal. We stayed at this bar for a while, then I went with a few others to another bar where I attempted to play foosball on table on the edge of collapse. Soon after they wanted to go to a club on Bar Street, I really dislike clubs but since they were all going and I couldn't remember how to get back to the hostel, I went along as well. It was my first experience in a Chinese nightclub and it was interesting to say the least. The Chinese all got wasted but many kept getting me drinks or would come up to me for random toasts. We met more expats there as well who also gave us loads of beer. We ended up staying until almost four in the morning. I wasn't really into it towards the end but it was an experience none the less.

On my final day there I walked the old section of town and checked out the bird and plant market. Also discovered Chinese McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Papa Johns, etc. Went to the train station to pick up my ongoing ticket to western Yunnan and saw this Chinese guy freak out at the counter in front of me. Funny how most people I've seen here so far seem to fall in line so well so seing this type of behaviour in China seems...refreshing. More people need to freak out like that.

Happy to be leaving Kunming, I grabbed the train the next morning to the Old City of Dali a few hours to the west.

Additional photos below
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6th April 2010

Thank you for the beautiful and interesting pics. It makes me travel with you.... (well, almost !) Take good care of yourself and eat more now (stay away from any form of meat)!

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