Trip Start Feb 11, 2007
Trip End Feb 12, 2013

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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Friday, January 9, 2009

No beggars, no hassle, no menus in english, no english speakers, no english street signs.

I've found that when I meet travellers here in China, sooner or later, the conversation turns to politics in China. One of the points that comes up is that with life in China being good, the absense of democracy seems a small price to pay in comparison.

Let me explain that a little better. The streets are clean, everyone has work, everythings affordable, students go to school, couples walk hand in hand in the park, families picnic together, there are hospitals everywhere, people can get free blood pressure tests on street corners, there's little (if any) crime and people seem generally seem quite upbeat.

So I can see from the outside why people get worked up about China's human rights etc. I don't deny that, but once you're here, its not as if the people are opressed or anything.

Anyway thats the first thing that I noticed about China.

Secondly, Kunmings wicked. Its a well spread out city. A Dutch girl I met even said it reminded her of Berlin. There seems to be a surprise around every corner.

The green lake park was great. Its so quintessentially Asian winter. Leafless trees, people rugged up, the only thing missing was snow. I got my portrait done in the park for US$7. I should have realised that the only westerner in the middle of the park getting his portrait done would draw a crowd. I had about 15 people gathered around me at one stage.

Further down from the lake is the zoo. Apparently its one of the better zoos in China but the animals all seemed slumped on their concrete floors whilsts the locals shout at them, one girl even threw a rock in the Lynx's cage. It was a bit depressing.

Down from the zoo is the university and all around there are cafes and funky clothes shops. I found a bookstore with English books and managed to pick something up for my daunting 40 hour train to Shanghai.

The hostel is awesome and I highly recommend it. However the table tennis table in the courtyard gets a thrashing as does your mental state after 12 hours of ping-pong.
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