How I Spent My Christmas Holiday

Well, some of it's not technically a road trip, but it seemed convenient to lump all the holiday stuff together in one place, especially as I only have a couple-three pictures from Christmas. It wasn't much of an event, I just had three friends come over for Christmas lunch. But it was interesting, especially since I didn't know that the friends were settling in for the duration. And they brought a cat.

Ruirui and Huang Bo came over on Christmas morning and we went food shopping. the idea was that I would make some western dishes and Huang Bo would make some Chinese dishes. So, in the name of all that's western, we headed directly for Wal-Mart! After loading up on stuff there, including some supplements to the two bowls and plates I owned, we met up with Huang Bo's girlfriend/fiancee Qiqi, who had had a morning class. We hit the street market for the veggies and such, and then back to the apartment.

At some point during this time I discovered that the real plan was for me to cook the first meal, then Huang Bo would cook dinner. Well, ok! So we spent the day cooking and eating and cooking and eating. These Chinese can really pack it down! In between we watched Harry Potter II, and after that Huang Bo and Qiqi wanted to watch the DVD I'd bought of The Two Towers (heh heh! Four days after the movie opened in the US!). Ruirui and I couldn't sit through another movie, plus she hasn't yet seen the first one, so we left the kids in my apartment and went around the corner for a pot of tea and some quiet time. When we got back, more food was on the stove. They all ended up leaving around 11 or 11:30 pm.

Oh yeah, the cat! Qiqi bought a cat for Ruirui for Christmas, and Huang Bo brought it over in the morning. It was a filthy little cat they'd probably bought from some street guy, but it was really sweet. And it was starving, so we bought cat food at Wal-Mart and fed it, and it slept on the sofa all day and curled up on whatever lap was available. Despite its suspect origins, I think it's a good cat.

On New Year's Day, Ruirui and I went first to the cemetary to visit a friend of hers who died recently. We cleaned the grave and lit a couple of cigarettes and put them in the mouths of the little stone dogs, and left him a couple of lollipops as well. This cemetary is awesome! The grave photos you saw in the Bamboo Temple spread are evidently poor folks' graves. This cemetary is for people who can afford to be buried in a little more style. They cremate them and they have a little 1-square-meter plot for their remains. The view from this place is astonishing, it's at the top of the mountain, and it's this incredible maze of paths and bridges and rows and rows of little tombs. I wish I could have gotten more pictures, especially of the wooded part, but you feel a little weird taking pictures in a cemetary. These photos here are all kind of surreptitious snapshots I squeezed off when nobody was looking.

Then it was off to the Bamboo Temple again, where Ruirui made her little prayers to the Buddha (she's not a devout anything, it's just a cultural thing), and we wandered around the bamboo groves for a while. Then we crossed that bridge to the park and had a really nice day at the park, sitting by the pond and walking through the woods. The capper of the day was the ride back down the mountain on the cable car, a ten-minute ride over the forest that offered a spectacular view of Kunming! Whee!

The weather was perfect, and it was just a beautiful day. I slept well that night.

Here's the gang at Christmas. Qiqi, Ruirui and Huang Bo.
Self-timer. I had just enough time to get in front of everyone and force a smile! Note the benevolent Mao presiding over the gathering. That's a calendar someone gave me for Christmas!
Filthy sweet sleeping Christmas kitty.
Here's the cemetary. The dead get a nice view.
More cemetary.
More cemetary.
Here are three Buddha-y statues at the entrance to the cemetary. I didn't stop to read the plaque, sorry. The driver was waiting for us.
The statues again.
Bamboo Temple redux! I saw some amazing, amazing carvings I had missed the first time, but once again, no cameras allowed in the temples. So this is what I got.
Me having a rest in the bamboo groves behind the temple.
Trying to take our own picture. Umm, maybe I should invest in a tripod.
Ruirui showed me an interesting cultural thing. Here she's looking for bamboo leaves that haven't unrolled yet, they look like a little onion shoot or something. You use them to tickle the inside of your ear (or someone else's). OK then!
Look at this photo and the one below. See anything different about them?
You are correct! There's a guy in the air! You can zip along on this cable across the pond, from one hill to another. 5 kuai, but it was pretty fun.
Here's a path through the woods we wandered along for quite a while. There were a LOT of steps. A WHOLE lot.
We got to the cable car station and suddenly, there was Kunming below us. Cool. You know, I often say Kunming is small, and it is by geographical standards. But Kunming has a population of about 4.5 million people -- and we all live in a city about half the size of Seattle proper!
It was at this point that I started wondering about the Chinese take on things like maintenance and safety. I rode on a small roller coaster at Daguan Park a few weeks back that scared the bejeezus out of me... the tracks were all rusted and things like that. Our car here was a bit rusty, but I figured heck, you only live once, right? But the thing seemed to be in pretty good order.
Is it an overhead view of the Chinese woodland, or giant broccoli? You decide.
A valley view from the tram with the sun beaming through. Can you see the bridge near the top?
This was a simply awesome ride. Here's Kunming. The end.