Thursday, April 23, 2009

China 2009 - 13

15 February, 2009. On the road again. This time to Kunming, Yunnan Province.

We headed back to Kunming for an overnight stay. We visited the Kunming Institute of Botany. I found it interesting to watch the landscape change from rural to urban. One really gets a sense of the population pressures put on the land when you fly over a region. China is a big country, but a billion plus people take their toll on tropical forests, grasslands, river ecosystems and the like.

I found the in-flight magazines to be very curious by American standards. One would never, ever see an advert like this on an American domestic flight. Given that I am illiterate for Chinese, I could only make up my own story about what this advert might have been about.

A couple of miscellaneous notes about China. Advertisements are everywhere - even on the handles for the transfer bus to the terminal.

Also, you have to get over the feeling of being pressed in a crowd, because you won't escape that in any of the cities. You will quickly become chums with thousands of strangers because they don't have any sense of personal space. You need to just keep moving and don't worry about bumping into people, because they'll be bumping into you, too.

This was an interesting sculpture at the entrance to the Kunming airport. I would have liked to have seen it up close, but I just got a fleeting glimpse of it as we were driving away.

Our driver first took us to our hotel via some back streets that were out of the main traffic congestion. That gave us a look into some back yards that were interesting - this is a government building with some military hardware rusting away.

I always enjoyed having the opportunity to drive the back streets because it revealed more of the everyday kind of scenes.

There was a lot of activity at this hour in preparation of the midday meal. Buckets and pans out in front of stores are used for washing fruits and veggies and cleaning dishes.

Cooking is also done out in the front of many of the shops.

What an interesting juxtaposition - a lorrie and a cement mixer on a bike trailer.

I don't recall the name of the hotel, but I think there may be a logo in one of these pics. The rooms were very modern and I always find the bathroom open to the sleeping area a bit disconcerting. I just don't get the appeal of this arrangement.

It's ok if you're in a room by yourself, but there are just some things one shouldn't have to share whilst traveling.

This hotel had a bunch of little accents that were unusual. For example, this ceramic bowl with flower petals and goldfish.

Aaaaacccckkkk! You can't get away from American stuff, even in China.

We were taken to a very nice restaurant adjacent to a park that overlooks the skyline of Kunming. The restaurant was owned by the the Kunming Institute of Botany director's daughter.

This isn't her restaurant, but there was a coffee shop next door, which was a welcome sight to me. I was very ready for a cup of joe by this time in the trip.

We had a room upstairs for our lunch and the staff took care to set the table in style.

This is the other half of the room. The tables were not the short, round style of the Dai restaurants we had been visiting.

This cabinet is one of the more important furnishings in a restaurant in China. It's a UV cabinet, which decontaminates the dishes after washing. With all the modernization going on in China, one would think that they could solve the clean water issues. I was glad to have a Steri-pen along with me on the trip. I just got into the habit of zapping all of my water.

Here's something not seen much on this trip thus far - silverware.

This was a fusion of cultures, from the place settings . . .

to the food served. It was nice to have some pizza as a break from Asian cuisine.

Oh, yes, we had Brassica. This was very nicely done, too.

Another cultural difference was in the desserts served. Dessert was always fresh fruit. You have to be a little careful with this because of the unclean water issues, but good restaurants will have no problems with water contamination.

After lunch, we had a short drive to the Kunming Institute of Botany.

Kunming is very modern and the housing is new and clean in most areas of the city where we traveled. It is interesting to see the mix of debris next to tidy areas, though.

The shops lining the main streets have glass windows and don't seem to be a jumbled as those on the side streets or in the rural areas.

Also of note in the cities are the very wide streets and huge intersections. Maybe this is planning for the future for when everyone has a car and the streets are like parking lots during rush hour.

Side streets are a different scene altogether.

As soon as we arrived at the institute, Jim Doyle gave a lecture on the evolution of early angiosperm lineages. Dr. Li is introducing Jim in this pic.

I liked how we were served green tea - every few minutes some nice ladies would come along to top off our cups.

Jim Doyle

I learned a lot from Jim's talk and enjoyed the slides of fossil pollen and plant parts.


Kipkimo said...

Hi Andi,

Being in Japan and with some knowledge of Japanese, hence, Chinese characters, I can tell you that the advertisement (2nd picture) is for Bathroom & Toilet products in a variety of colors, as shown.
Regarding the little guy with the fantastic performance, well... he is probably very excited by the colors ;-)

Andi Wolfe said...

Thanks, Kipkimo - that's very helpful.