I’ve been in Kunming since Friday afternoon (I didn’t miss my second flight in the afternoon) and have been hanging out with Mael, my French Kunming tour guide.
Kunming is a 60 minute flight south of Chengdu, and also the capitol of Yunnan province, which borders Laos and Vietnam. I expected the weather to be warmer than it is, and I came largely unprepared, with SE Asia clothes. It’s still warmer than Chengdu, though.
I came here for a single Saturday night gig which was two nights ago, but decided to hang out here for 5 days and check it out, since Mael is here and I haven’t had much of a chance to really see Kunming. I’ve had a pretty great time since arriving here and I think I can identify some significant advantages and drawbacks of the capitol of Yunnan as opposed to the capitol of Sichuan. In some respects, this place feels more like SE Asia than China. There seem to be exponentially more foreigners here (especially French people, of whom I’ve probably met two dozen in the 3 days I’ve been here; as opposed to Chengdu where I’ve met two of them in 8 months), the weather is more moderate and doesn’t reach extremes, the sky is blue and the landscape is more tropical, and this place is much more affected by outside culture. This city has better music, and more of it. The gig on Saturday is a fair example.
The club, called Kundu (on the main club street in Kunming) is a Chinese club through and through. I’m not sure how to explain it to someone who doesn’t know what that means. Although Mael took the effort to actively promote the party, which isn’t very common up north where I live, and as a result, the place was jammed with foreigners. This was the crucial first step to the success of the party in my mind. I played an hour of hip hop and then another 90 minutes of house and breaks (30 minutes past the time that I could have stopped), after which Mael and I tagged drum & bass for two hours. This is simply something that couldn’t have possibly gone down the way it did in more than three cities that I’ve played at in China (Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton). Needless to say, the place was going bonkers until 4am and between Mael and I, we played for a combined 5 and a half hours straight, which is definitely some kind of record for me. Mael soon returns to France for 2 weeks to complete some paperwork, and we have a New Years party coming up.
And since it’s nearly Thanksgiving – my sister is with her husband in New York now, waiting to board a plane to Beijing in six hours. I last saw them in Bali at the end of August, so it’s only been three months. They’ve been to Lijiang before in West China, but I don’t think they really had the opportunity to see China as I think they should have. I’ll fix this as soon as they arrive in Chengdu. Here’s a short list of places I’ll take them:
– Sichuan opera. Famous for mask changing. I found the best place in town to see it and I haven’t even been to this place myself. Sip tea and watch masked acrobatics while listening to a 12-piece traditional Chinese ensemble.
– Computer Square. Four buildings, five million square feet, thousands of vendors, and more advertisements than I’ve ever seen anywhere outside of Hong Kong. David (Cici’s husband) will love it, being a psuedo-hobby IT professional.
– Hot Pot. The hottest fondue you’ve ever had. Burn their mouths off, and don’t let them ever forget it. Chengdu is famous for this, and I simply wouldn’t be a good host without showing them this. Getting David to actually try it instead of eat a bowl of rice might be difficult, but my confidence is high.
– The Panda Reserve. The panda is to China what the bald eagle is to America, and the national reserve is in my city. We have to go early when they’re active and being fed. Pandas are very lazy.
– The Art Market. I’ve heard that it’s the largest in China outside of Beijing. If you want art, you can buy it here directly from artists. Painting, calligraphy, sculpture, metalwork, furniture, ceramics; whatever you want, it’s here. My father and I are interested in reselling imported artifacts in Charlottesville Virginia and Cici will bring him samples.
– DVD Shopping. Years ago David and I nearly made a part time job out of a joint DVD duplication operation. He’s still doing it, but I’ve been put out of business by entire rooms full of DVD’s for sale at less than 50 cents a piece here. I’ve described it to him before but I’m positive that he won’t believe it till he sees it.
A Carlsberg promoter called me an hour ago offering a gig in Urumuqi this Friday. I told him I’d get back to him, but I think I’ll go with it, for two important reasons. I’ve never been to Urumuqi, or even really close to it (it’s in NW China near Kazakstan), and Carlberg is my favorite sponsor.
Now to enjoy my last day in Kunming.