Fleeing the Snow

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Peng Yuan Hotel

Flag of China  ,
Friday, February 2, 2007

As had been the trend, we woke to cloudy skies and chilly weather. The snow which had actually stuck to the ground the previous day had already been washed away, so we took that as a sign winter was over. We packed up our belongings, taxied it to a bus station, and bought tickets to Jianshui, a town three or four hours southeast of Kunming. Because of the weather, I can't tell you how the scenery was: the windows were perpetually fogged up. We rolled into town around four o'clock, walked across the street to the closest hotel, and quite contrary to our typical behavior, checked into the first place we saw. It was a nice hotel with spacious rooms, clean bathrooms, and free drinking water (no heat though!), all for only 100Y ($12.50).

Once we were checked in, we hit the streets to explore the city. Jianshui is a small (especially by Chinese standards) city, known for its traditional architecture and as the home of the third largest Confucian temple in China. We had a map, but weren't sure where we were on that map, so we just walked in the direction of the city. We got ourselves lost in alleys and ended up near what we believed to be the Chaoyang Gate, a structure that dates back to the Ming Dynasty and is still in excellent condition. As we passed through the gate, we seem to have moved into Jianshui's old town: once again our feet negotiated the path lined with cobblestones. We wandered about for a few hours and finally found the Confucian temple we'd been seeking. Unfortunately, rather than 3Y (less than 50˘), as quoted in our book, the temple now cost 60Y (nearly $8). We passed it up and sought out a cold beer instead - a much cheaper way to pass the time.

We had a nice, wallet-friendly veggie feast at the Old Town Café (donning the sign "Old Down Cafe") and then attempted to find our way back to our hotel. During our meandering, we had our first pink light sighting. In China, there isn't a red-light district, but there's a pink one. The pink-light district is full of storefronts which pose as beauty parlor by day and "massage parlor" by night. And in Jianshui, it seemed to be a pretty common operation. We hadn't seen the pink lights until this point (interestingly, just after I read about them in the latest Amy Tan book), but they would continue to appear throughout the rest of our time in China (always near our hotel...).

After about an hour and a half and lots of aimless wandering, we made it. We cozied up, watched a few tv shows we'd downloaded (Grey's Anatomy and Veronica Mars, if you're interested), and hit the hay. The next day we had plans to head up into the mountains.
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