Bus to Shangri-la

Kunming is bigger than Bangkok. ..?!

I arrive at the bus station four hours early, so I set up camp in a nearby library. Two hours later, a security guard points to the library door. He says something I don’t understand and then hurries downstairs. Either the library is closing or he has gone to get his gun.

My first supper: I walk into the restaurant, and it occurs to me that I can say ‘eat rice’ in Thai, and that is not helpful at all. All Chinese eyes on me and my foreign backpack, and I wish I knew “I’m here to eat,” although I suppose this should be obvious. I hover by the food counter.

The guy from Alberta told me that the easiest way to order food is to point to something someone else is eating, whatever looks good. Unfortunately, the tables are far away, so I won’t be able to manage this without picking up someone’s plate, and this does not seem wise.

The staff speaks to me in Chinese, I speak to them in English, and eventually we exchange money for food. I eat vegetarian… I think. The meal is good, and I am full. I know how to say that in Thai, too.

Throughout dinner, I peruse my Chinese phrasebook. It’s called something like ‘Essential Chinese for Travelers.’ I hope I run in to the sort of travelers who consider ‘mackeral’ to be essential vocabulary.

Boarding the bus: the passengers grab plastic bags on their way in. At first, I am afraid they are barf bags, but we use them to hold our shoes. The bus is orange and plush.

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