Chop Suey

Chop suey (Chinese: ; pinyin: suì; literally "assorted pieces")

Much like the popular dish Chop Suey this blog will be a mix of assorted thoughts, stories, pictures and the like from our adventures in China.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Yunnan Yi (1): Xīn Nián Kuài Lè

Hello again!

Carl and I arrived home from our trip to Yunnan last night. After a night of the best sleep I have ever had and an early morning Packer victory, I am really excited to have some debrief about our trip. Even though we were only gone for a few days, we packed so much into each day. So as to not overwhelm everyone with information, we're going to split up our stories. Starting with:

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè - Happy New Year

The week of the Chinese New Year seems like a nation-wide lock down. It felt like Carl and I were the only ones working in the whole city! On the bright side, it forced us to make our first meal. The result: noodles with steamed vegetables and soy sauce. It was successful in that we didn't burn the apartment building down and the steamed veggies were good, not successful in that the noodles looked like a huge blob of wrigily white things and tasted about that. Needless to say we were extremely anxious to catch our train to Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan province. This was my first overnight train experience and to be honest, it was much better than I thought. After deciphering the highly confusing flashing signs guiding us to our train, we boarded. I don't know how it is in other places, but in China you have 3 ways to travel via train:

1 - hard seat (more to come on this option later)
2 - 6 beds to a compartment, 3 on top of each other
3 - 4 beds to a compartment, 2 on top of each other

We took option 2. We both ended up on the middle bunks and settled in for the night. The middle is a pretty good option. You have enough room to sit up and people don't usually sit on the middle bunk before going to bed.

We arrived around 5:30am and Carl, the Magellan of our duo, found a bus to take us to meet our friends at the bus station. We then boarded a bus that drove us to Lijiang. One special note about the bus - it was playing old James Bond movies in dubbed over Chinese. Highly awesome. The Chinese countryside is truly beautiful with mountains serving as farms (the Chinese terrace the mountains and farm on the side of them), cities and just beautiful landscape.

A view of Old Town Lijiang and
Snow Mountain
8 hours later, we arrived in Lijiang and started our search for a hostel. After several phone calls and grabbing a taxi to take us, we found ourselves at the door step of the Memory March hostel in Old Town, Lijiang. This is apparently one of the best preserved traditional Chinese cities in the whole of China. All of the buildings looked like one would expect an old Chinese house to look like. It was extremely beautiful and lived up to our expectations.

Soon after our arrival we set out, ready to celebrate the New Year. But only after becoming acquainted with our new hostel mates:

The whole city was lined with Chinese lanterns and fireworks were exploding over our heads. We wandered through the streets, looking at art work, food and lots of people watching. We ate at a local hot pot restaurant and then continued our wandering. Sunny, a Chinese friend who was with us on the trip, always eats dumplings at the New Year, so we stopped for a midnight snack. As we wandered the streets to our hostel we were accompanied by a fresh round of fireworks, all welcoming in the Year of the Rabbit. A truly spectacular evening :)

A view of Old Town, Lijian at night
The next day, we arose and after soaking in the sun for a while (yes!!!) we made our way back into Old Town and did some day time perusing. Carl and I bought ourselves our first housewarming gift (if and when we ever have a house...) a bell. The bell has traditional Naxi (the local minority ethnic group) symbols on it, looks like it is made of bronze and has a nice ting sound to it. That evening we met some new Chinese friends and after talking for a while, they took us to a Muslim restaurant where we had the most amazing dinner. We got to pick out the meat and veggies ourselves and enjoyed and wonderful meal. After that, we found a concert and listened to some music for a while and enjoyed this spectacular view of the city.

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