Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Kunming. I flew in last Friday. So good to get out of the summer heat of Beijing. I like Beijing, actually. I would say it is probably the nicest city I have ever lived in. The autumn in Beijing is beautiful. Southerners complain about winter, but I actually like the winter in Beijing. Maybe that's because I have lived in northern climes most of my life. But I think it's also because in Beijing, every building has hot water heat. So once you get inside, it's actually quite comfortable. But summers in Beijing are not pleasant. The key word is "sultry." Hot, muggy, and polluted. I guess Nojiri spoiled me as a child. We would go to the mountains in the Japanese alps to get away from the summer heat. So summer is supposed to be for going to the mountains.

Kunming. Same elevation as Denver, same latitude as Honolulu. That unusual combination makes for cool, mild summers. Last year I flew to Chengdu and waited a few days until the rain stopped in the mountains before I headed up to the Tibetan Plateau. I eventually worked my way down to Kunming, and then returned to Beijing from there. This year I flew directly to Kunming instead of Chengdu. Chengdu is actually closer to the Tibetan Plateau, but the problem with Chengdu is that it is a very hot city, so it's not really a reprieve from Beijing. The advantage of flying to Kunming is that you are in cool country as soon as you get off the plane.

As I landed in Kunming, I was reminded of the first time I visited this city fourteen years ago. It was my first trip ot China. We did a project up in the mountains on the first bend of the Yangtze River. The difference between flying into that little frontier airport fourteen years ago, and the monstrosity they have now is almost impossible to describe. China has a lot of money, and they are pouring it into infrastructure.

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