Monday, April 27, 2009

China 2009 - 15

15 February 2009 - Kunming, Yunnan Province

After visiting the botanical garden, our driver brought us back to the hotel so we could freshen up before dinner. When we arrived, there was a wedding party waiting for photographs or their ride - don't know which.

I find it very interesting that Chinese couples dress in western fashions for their nuptials. I wonder when that tradition began and if anyone wears traditional costumes for wedding ceremonies?

I loved the use of fresh flowers for celebrations. This sure beats the American tradition of balloons and tin cans tied to the bumper. Pretty!

The hotel lobby was filled with the sound of music played by young ladies. Classy!

Even the ash trays were done up in style. Several times an hour someone comes along, rakes out any cigarette or cigar butts out of the sand and then imprints the hotel logo back onto the pile of sand that was raked into a cone shape.

The wedding couple was still out on the steps when we came back downstairs to catch our ride to dinner.

Sometimes candid shots capture the most amazing moments.

The sun was setting over Kunming as we were whisked away to another hotel where we would have dinner with Professor Li.

Kunming is full of shiny, modern buildings.

There are lots of neon signs, too.

We went to a very upscale hotel for dinner where Professor Li had rented a suite on the third floor to host a banquet for us. We had our own chef and wait staff to serve us through the evening. The decor was very nice.

It was a very intimate setting and it was easy to share conversation around the table.

The place setting was very elaborate and a bit confusing to this westerner. I basically just watched what the Chinese scientists were doing before reaching for any dish, serving utensil or miscellaneous item.

The first thing that happened after we were seated was an elaborate placement of the napkin under the place setting, and draped onto the lap.

This interesting stone sculpture stood watch over the festivities from a perch up on a tall cabinet.

The food was nicely prepared and very flavorful, but I had to start asking about each dish after sampling this one. I'm not used to eating organ meat and this was a dish that nearly made me embarrass myself upon first bite. My "Don't ask, don't tell" culinary policy basically fell apart this evening.

Ummmmm, no chicken feet for me, either, thank you very much..

I did enjoy the variety of fungi dishes.

All of the vegetarian dishes were very tasty.

I'm not sure what all was in this dish. It had some unusual textures on the palate. Hmmm, this was a "don't ask" dish.

I think this was a dish made from lichen, but I could be wrong. I do recall that the lichen dish was delicious.

These were some kind of fish cake that had a dipping sauce - very tasty.

This was the "Do it yourself" course of the meal. The broth was boiling hot and all the ingredients were laid out to be placed into the bowl to make a lovely soup. Flower petals, calamari cut to resemble a ginger flower, raw meats, egg, and a variety of spices and veggies. It was truly a wonderful culinary experience.

I snapped this picture on the way out of the hotel - we had a glimpse of the chef preparing food for the restaurant. I loved the image of squash piled up, waiting for their turn to be sliced and added to a dish.

It had been a very long, but memorable, day in Kunming. This is the hotel where we stayed the night. There were all sorts of social furniture circles tucked away in various niches of the hotel.

This is the hall where my room was located.

You'll have to click on the image to be able to read the sign above the phone. It finally sunk into my jet-lagged brain why there was a phone next to the toilet in each of the hotels. I'm happy to report that I didn't need this service during my visit to China!

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