Back in Kunming for one night

Trip Start May 03, 2005
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Trip End Jun 08, 2005


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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Yesterday I left the Dehong Prefecture(Ruili, Wanding, Langchan, Jiegeio, etc), and its border with Myanmar. Whilst I enjoyed visiting the area, I have to say that I never really felt safe in the town. The villages were fine and the minority peoples welcoming, but the spiritual darkness of Ruili, left you feeling vulnerable, and that was a feeling I did not really enjoy, but I was not alone!

Sitting on the border was an interesting time, and I had time to reflect on what I was seeing. In Ruili, using the internet cafe was ok, but you really felt on occasion that you were intruders in the enemies camp as you walked through the town, particularly at nightime.

The town reflects much of modern China gone wrong. As the villagers have left their homes, and communities, as the town has expanded, they have moved into what all I can call, are garages. These 18ft long by 10ft wide accommodation units, with pull down shutters are now home to what was a Dai, Lisu, or Jingpo (Kachin in Myanmar) family.
Not only that, but it is also their place of work, with many cooking and providing food for passers by, or making things to sell. Traditional Community Life as they knew it is gone, they have been assimilated.

There is little hope left in the town, for such peoples, and the border area and villages, are no better, what answer can there be to their plight?

I know the answer, yet the harvest field is so big and in need of workers.

Leaving Ruili yesterday to head to Lijiang required a two hour drive to the airport at Manshai, then a flight to Kunming. It was only when I got back to Kunming that I realized how much Ruili, the villages and the Border area had affected me, and how vulnerable I had been in Ruili, yet also how loved I had been for the first time since arriving in China. Father is truly a great companion.

Being in Kunming again was great, civilisation and interesting conversation. Just down the road from the hotel at which I overnighted before flying on to Lijiang is a lovely restaraunt/pub that does Chinese and English food. The guy that is helping to run it
is actually a former Thai policeman, who speaks excellent English and we had a great chat as I tucked into a great big juicy grilled steak, with mushrooms and chips, boy
that did go down well, as did the local tipple - Kunming is truly a lovely city, I could easily live here as a base of operations.

In Lijiang:

Just now, I am sat in the Dogbha House (internet cafe) in Lijiang drinking a banana smoothie (handmade), am watching donkey/horse packs walking by with their bells ringing, and as I tuck into a local Naxi burger. If I am honest, I didn't eat much in Ruili - The options were far from inviting. I must have lost a bit of weight, with the heat, limited food options, and all the walking and riding that I did, etc, mind you the overnight in Kunming helped make up for it!

Lijiang is lovely, I could quite easily live here (in the old town), and even in some parts of Kunming, but Ruili would have to be one place that I would only visit for 'NGO type work' and there is a distinct possibility of that. Don't worry,I'm not thinking of moving out here - Yet! Oh this burger is nice - Even if its Yak meat!
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