China Team Journal

Friday, June 28, 2013

First Week of Teaching English in Kunming

Thought for the day:
Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if only the best songbirds were singing.                      
The end of the first week of teaching. The volunteers and their teacher/students are settled into their morning routines as witnessed by the stories of successes and semi-successes heard on our bus back to the hotel and at lunch.

Lunch was also an opportunity to discuss plans for our first free afternoon and our weekend activities. Several weekend activities were planned that will be reported in the weekend journal. For this afternoon, Dixie and Leon offer to lead a walk to some of the nearby Kunming attractions, with a promise to get back to the hotel in time for dinner at six.

Lester, Stella, Kitty and Esther us up on the offer which began with a ride on the 69 bus, westward to Zhengyi Road, which is a pedestrian street leading south through a mixture of old and modern buildings. On the left were stores with familiar western names such as Papa John’s. On the right were the remnants of old Kunming, including a partially restored 300 year old mansion. We hesitantly entered the courtyard and found several young people busy working on computers. One took us under her wing and led us around telling us (through Kitty acting as interpreter) that this building was the only one in the area not damaged by an earthquake and was being prepared as museum to illustrate part of the early history of Kunming. 

The walk continued south to a huge open market with stalls selling anything anyone could ever want or need:

  • living birds, turtles, snakes, scorpions, frogs, puppies, piglets, fish, rabbits, mice, and other creatures which might be used as pets, or eaten.
  • embroidered bags, hats, scarves, blouses, shoes, pants and all varieties of clothing.
  • tools and machines of every kind and description

But you get the idea. Since this particular walking group consisted of committed non-shoppers, we passed through this extensive market relatively quickly and came upon the four story “Bird and Flower” market which is famous for selling almost everything except birds and flowers. Here you will find larger and more expensive items like furniture, ceramics, clothing, etc. However, we were not tempted by wares in this building. We continued south (after a detour to the west toward the Provincial Museum to find a place to cross Dongfeng Road). We made a short stop at a Starbucks (known for their clean, western style bathrooms) and came to the Golden Horse and Jade Rooster Memorial Arches. Continuing south we finally reached the West Pagoda and walked to the East Pagoda past very realistic life-sized bronze statues commemorating the Tea and Horse Road of Yunnan. Then we hailed cabs back to the hotel for dinner. 

After dinner, Mary, Wendy, Lester and Stella went to “Dynamic Yunnan” a spectacular display of the dance and music of the minority peoples of Yunnan