Sunday, October 08, 2006

Kunming's People

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival happened a few days back, which brought back memories of a past trip to Kunming. We had a great time in that part of China. The scenery at the Stone Forest was dazzling (see right) and the whole experience was memorable, but the best part was the yet untainted essence of KunMing city. You could feel it in her people - from every day people on the street to the vendors to the restaurant workers. Whereas in Beijing, many in the tourism trade had perfected the crass side of their craft - street vendors yelling, tugging, ripping off foreigners, Kunming felt slightly more sheltered from the ugly side of trying to turn a profit at all costs. Words can't capture all the little things that created this impression.

The most enduring memory from that time was the sense that although Kunming was a big city, it still had a community feel. After a delicious dinner one night, we decided to go for a stroll in the center of the city. We ended up in beautiful Green Lake Park. It was a peaceful moon-lit night and we strolled leisurely past willow trees, enjoying the fresh night air, when from somewhere in the park, music started. The different yet somewhat familiar sounds of traditional Chinese instruments aroused our interest, and following the sounds led to three white-bearded elderly gentleman with their home-brought chairs, enjoying each other's music. The music attracted many of the park visitors - a good thirty locals, ranging from mid-age to elderly, who gathered to listen to the music. As we stayed to enjoy the music, the locals began dancing to these folk tunes, and they were just really enjoying themselves. The music drew more and more locals (on their evening walk) to the area, and the dancers welcomed the new members into their dance. How neat is it that a few people just got together to play music and an impromptu gathering formed?

photo credit


Anonymous Moof said...

That sounds like something we're missing here in the states ... we're so busy with our lives, and our rushing back and forth ... we would probably not hear the music and keep on going. Sad.

Thank you for sharing that ... it's a warm, wonderful thought!

10:00 PM  
Blogger ipanema said...

Most parts of China certainly has that 'village' feel where people gather just as in your photo for anything - music, dancing on the pavement, magic shows and hawkers of course.

This setting can be witnessed in most Asian countries, with a difference of course.

Nice post, WV!

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Moof said...

I hope that I can get out there someday ... I want to go to India, and to the markets of Borneo ... and now, to China!

Ahh well, at least I can dream ...

9:51 AM  
Blogger always learning said...

hi ladies,

Moof - India and Borneo are definitely on the "to go" list :). It is sad that we are often rushing from one place to another. On a recent weekday off, I was around town running errands, but at a leisurely pace, and it made a world of difference. I just have to make more of an effort to slow down and enjoy the journey, not hurry to some final "destination." And remind myself that it IS the journey that matters more...

Ipanema - thanks! yup, many parts of China still have that village feel. Actually, 80% of China's population are still farmers! But in the big cities, there's really a loss of that sense of community. No different than in our big cities, I guess. Quite sad.

6:32 PM  

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