Shanghai was cool… would definitely recommend it if you want to see what will likely be one of the most important cities in the world over the next 50 years. I don’t think I will live there though… its a bit too cold (its fairly far north) and the nightlife was a little less cool than I had hoped… Guangzhou and Shenzhen were better in terms of the people…
So I left there a few days ago and went to Kunming. I have a friend who runs a gold mining exploration company in SouthWest China so I decided to come out here… Kunming is the closest city to where he is. Kunming is the first Chinese city I have been to that is really clean, unpolluted and has a really laid back atmosphere. It has about 4 million people, so is a small city by China standards (but about the size of Toronto almost!!) and is the capital of Yunnan province. Yunnan is just south of Sichuan province for those who like spicy food. If you like nice, clean places where people sit around the lake at night and just hang out, play cards and go for walks/bikerides, Kunming is your place in China.
I only stayed a day in Kunming and then my friend, a few of his geologists, and myself were driven in an SUV for about 9 hours through some of the most ridiculously crazy roads ever… half the way was mud roads, usually just one lane, with tons of big trucks coming down them… the road goes up into these mountains that are just massive, and steeper than any I have seen… virtually straight up… so the road is incredibly windy as we went up the mountains.
We had to stop every now and then for goats, cows, water buffalo and trucks and motorcycles… but my driver this time didn’t hit any motorcycles, which was a nice change… in fact, he was an amazing driver.. there was a few times I thought for sure we would have gone off the cliff, or bottomed out, but he got us through everything… his name is Mr. Wong and he rocks. We even came up to a construction area and they told us we had to wait an hour and a half before we could get through, but Mr. Wong got out and walked up to the bulldozer that was working and gave him a cigarette… the bulldozer then cleared the rocks out of the way so we could get through right away!
The town I am at right now is called Da Qiao. This is the most remote place I have been in Asia… and there aren’t a lot of luxuries… it is cold (cuz it is way up in the mountains) and has been rainy, wet and muddy… there are no heaters in this whole town… and i have an outstanding 50 yuan for anyone who can show me one sit down toilet in this whole city… all that i have seen, including in my hotel, are just a hole in the floor… the girls here must have thighs like a sprinter!
I am currently wearing almost all my clothes, plus have borrowed socks, sweaters and jackets from numerous of the people here… I am just not used to this bone chilling cold… plus I have zero body fat now and it really makes me feel cold.
Luckily the hotel is run by a family with a few teenage daughters that offer massages to help keep me warm at night!
I have been spending parts of my day on the internet planning my next trip and I am definitely going somewhere warm after this… I have Bangkok and then Phuket as my planned next stops… but I won’t book it, I will just go to the airport in Kunming on Wednesday and see what sounds best… I definitely want/need to get to a beach for a few days after this!
I have a few more weeks in Asia and think I will likely try to hit Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Jakarta (Indonesia), Saigon (Vietnam) and possibly Taipei (Taiwan) during that time as I haven’t been to any of those places and have always wanted to go.