My First Visit to China

On April 10th, after one and a half weeks in Vancouver, my parents and baby sister drove me back to the airport. We had a nice coffee after I checked in, then I headed through security and off to my gate for my first trip to China. The flight to Beijing took about 11 hours, and there was some nice scenery along the way as we flew up the coast of BC, along the coast of Alaska, and back down along the coast of Russia and Korea. This photo is somewhere over the far eastern reaches of the Asian part of Russia:

I had to take a photo of this sign on the inside of the bathroom stall door in the Beijing airport – I agree, it certainly is more convenient to use the loo when the door isn’t wide open:

I spent a few hours in the Beijing airport, which wasn’t all that great in my opinion. I’m not sure whether it was just the part of the airport I was in, but there were very few food services available. I ended up finding a cafe with good coffee and tasty mango smoothies though. Then I caught my next flight to Kunming, in Yunnan Province (in south central China), arrived after midnight, found my hotel, and went to sleep.

On the 12th I spent several hours walking around Kunming. It’s surprisingly quiet for a city of 8 million – mainly because gasoline-powered motorcycles are not permitted in the city. Instead, everyone drives around on electric motorbikes, which are extremely quiet (to the point of danger, really, since they often drive full speed on the sidewalk without making their presence known to pedestrians).

I spent 4 nights in Kunming. Most of the days were spent in an office helping with some English proofreading, and avoiding mosquitoes:

Beautiful scenic view from the office:

On the 15th I caught an overnight sleeper bus to Mangshi/Luxi. It wasn’t terribly uncomfortable, and it was nice actually having a bed on a bus for once rather than a cramped seat. 3 long rows of bunk beds on a bus definitely wouldn’t pass Canadian safety standards, but it would be a lot more comfortable than a Greyhound!

After a few hours in Mangshi I made my way by road to Nabang, a town on the border with Burma. We had to wait about half an hour at one point while an accident was cleared up, as the road was blocked in both directions, but other than that the 5 hour drive was quite easy, with nice scenery. A typical view:

I spent the next seven and a half weeks in this area, helping out in an office with various tasks such as proofreading, working on databases and data entry forms, and eating a lot of rice. I managed to get food poisoning once, which is quite an accomplishment since I never get sick, and I drank the equivalent of a full-sized keg of orange drink. Each litre has 1700 calories, so you can imagine how healthy that was for me…

Photos of interesting creepy crawlies coming up in the next post!