After spending a few days in Shu He, I’m back in the Yunnan capitol of Kunming.
Shu He is a small mountain town next to Lijiang, which is a major tourist attraction in Southern China. I didn’t see more than a handful of foreigners there, but about 10,000 chinese tourists, each group complete with a tourguide toting a group flag and yelling into a megaphone. Chinese tourists are really obnoxious, by the way. Shu He itself is incredibly beautiful, though. Most of my time there was spent sitting around doing almost nothing, in the company of half a dozen friends, or out taking photographs. After only a few days there I felt like I had seen almost everything there and was ready to leave. There were a few mountains that I didn’t climb which I’m sure must be fun, but I’ll save that for next time. Because of the people that I was in the company of (including Wang Lei, a semi-famous underground musician, and his band, who are rasta Chinese who chain-smoke joints, Guo Guo, owner of the Hemp House, and stoner from Belgium named Matt). Needless to say, I was higher than I needed to be and ended up feeling like I wasted time by being crippled on the couch.
Such is ShuHe, I believe. I ended up having to leave a day early due to my laptop charger spontaneously breaking. Due to gigs this weekend, making sure that I either get it repaired or buy a new one within 2 days is of great importance, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to find anything like that without returning to a big city. So last night I took a 10-hour night bus from Lijiang back to Kunming. The night bus wasn’t so bad at all; I slept in an upper area to the very back of the bus, next to two small children. They fell asleep almost instantly so I listened to music for a short period before nodding off myself. I woke up at 4:30am to find that we’d arrived in Kunming almost 3 hours ahead of schedule. Not wanting to check into a hotel for 2 nights, I got into a taxi and found an internet bar where I sat for a few hours watching youtube clips. I stumbled upon some Bill O’Reilly clips which made me want to punch him in the throat. O’Reilly is a master at making total strangers hate his guts, there were about 1,000 comments on each of the videos wishing slow death upon him. The clip where Steven Colbert was a featured guest on the O’Reilly Factor nearly made me laugh tears.
In the late morning I checked into a local hotel, ate lunch, and spent the next 5 hours or so studying Chinese. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and studied hard in one sitting, but I had a solid session today. I reviewed a lot of characters that I use in normal speech but am less familiar with the characters, and added about 25 new words. Some of questionable use, many political in nature, but all very interesting. I was chatting online with a friend in Chengdu who wished me luck in an interesting way – he said in Chinese, something like, “the emperor above (God) blesses and protects you”. Chinese is such an elegant, poetic language and English seems a little stale and boring by comparison. I can’t picture myself learning English as a second or third language and having a great time doing it. The five hours I spent studying flew by.
Tomorrow at 7:40am I catch a flight to Wuhan, one of the three furnaces (ridiculously hot cities to be in during summertime), where I have a show tomorrow, and then another in Xi’an on Saturday. And then I return to Chengdu and this short five-city tour will come to an end. The sun has just set and it’s raining now. I’m not looking forward to waking up tomorrow before the sun has risen, but I’m anxious to see if the show especially in Xi’an lives up to how I remember my last gig there being (off the wall fun & crazy).