Shanghai – Shangri-La, Day 4

When we first arrived in Kunming, we couldn’t get a taxi no matter how hard we tried, and the weight of our huge backpacks made it all a bit frustrating. There were plenty of dodgy illegal taxis and motorbike taxis offering their services (read: harassing us) but we didn’t want to take a journey in some random guy’s unsafe-looking car or on the back of an aggressive woman’s bike. Luckily a helpful policeman told us where to get the bus and how many stops to go to get to the Hump Hostel.

It was still fairly early in the morning when we arrived, having taken the overnight train, so we had to wait two or three hours to check in. We ate some breakfast in the café, and looked forward to having a shower, the idea of which had taken on mythic proportions while languishing on the dirty train. When the time finally came, a vicious mosquito bit my leg as soon as I entered the shower cubicle… but even that didn’t ruin the experience.

We went for a walk round the local market stalls selling tourist tat and terrible sunglasses (which was no fun for Darcy who had forgotten to bring hers and was looking for a cheap replacement). We were unable to resist the charms of a local amusement arcade where we played what I used to refer to as street basketball in Taiwan but it wasn’t in the street so I suppose it was just… arcade basketball. Either way it broke one of my nails, which sounds even more pathetic when written down.

We then played two-player Street Fighter and I won every time with my classic aggressive button-bashing style. No doubt this wouldn’t work against someone who actually knew the moves but whatever, let me have my glory.

We made friends with one of the barmen at the hostel, Lu, who played the guitar for us. He had an epic conversation with Darcy in Chinese (at her insistence as she was on a roll speaking so much Chinese on the trip) before revealing that his major was English and he could easily chat away to us in our native language.

I liked this little area because it looked like it could be on a Prince album cover.

In the evening we decided it was time for some proper Yunnan food. It’s my favourite type of Chinese food of all the kinds I’ve tried, maybe because there are plenty of vegetarian options and I’m obsessed with the potato cakes (very similar to rosti) and goats’ cheese. We first found a temple with some beautiful paintings and architectural details lit up spookily by the moon and distant streetlights. Then I found a stationery shop, which Darcy had to drag me away from as usual. Finally we met this peacock at the entrance of a Yunnan restaurant.

The place was really fancy inside, and the service was great in a bizarre and overly formal kind of way. It was pretty cheap and we got a good amount of delicious food for our money.

Later that night we made friends with a few people at the hostel bar and unfortunately met a very sleazy guy who Darcy made a complaint about at reception. They said there was nothing they could do (although he was getting physical, grabbing girls and laughing at them, generally being very creepy…) but he disappeared after that as he obviously realised people were onto him.

Luckily we also met some good people, including a 19-year-old girl from a small town in Guizhou. She was gorgeous, opinionated and very forthcoming. At one point she turned to me and a Finnish guy called Jonni and said: “Let’s have a conversation. Choose a topic. What shall we talk about?” No pressure, then…

I also finally managed to get a photo of a bouquet of teddies, which if you’ve read the Cow baby etc. post will make sense to you. Why do these things exist, seriously?!

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