today's objective: to explore the city. the weather's been terrible the past few days and i wasn't even in town during the weekend, so i felt like i really don't have a grasp of kunming that well. my father called me this morning to tell me that the travel agency has managed to bump up my departure date back to october 10th, since my cousin is no longer coming to boston next month. i then went to the internet cafe to post some photos and write an entry. close to lunch, i had a dozen chinese dumplings at a nearby heilongjiang restaurant, along with some raw garlic (which later i had to apologize for whenever i talked to anyone).

i also visited a few buddhist supply stores nearby my hotel. turns out the buddha chant box i got yesterday at the temple was more expensive - and i thought those ladies were giving me a discount!

after a brief rest at the hotel, i went out and started walking south, in the direction of the bird and flower market and the two pagodas in the heart of the city. ms.shanghai called me again, and i was simultaneously chatting while dodging chinese traffic, something i now realize was a bit suicidal.

wild mushrooms

gaoliang wine 60% alcohol content:
RMB$6/liter (less than US$1)

i made it to the fish and flower market but i got there too late (around 1pm) and there was nothing to be seen, other than some orchid shops. i asked one of the owners who told me to come early in the morning, around 7am, to see flowers. i then found the aquarium market, with some amazing aquariums on display. a 60 gallon tank with live plants and fish plus a stand costs only US$300.

fish for pets

aquarium market

US$1/bunny (cage included)

i made it to the pagodas, where they were doing a lot of construction work, trying to transform the surrounding area into a touristy old city, like lijiang and dali. this may be the pattern for future chinese cities as well, where there's a fake old town to draw the tourist dollars. indeed, there were a lot of tourist buses there, with large groups of people being led by guides waving flags.

east pagoda

i went to a mcdonald's but only got a small ice cream cone. looking at the map, i saw that i was close to people's square and went to 1915 for dinner, the place i went to the very first night i was in kunming. i saw my old waitress but she didn't seem to recognize me when i said hello. later she came over to apologize, she thought i'd already left kunming and was surprised i was still in town.

i walked back home, stopping at a few shoe stores to see if there's anything i liked (to replace the pair of US$3 sneakers i bought a few days ago, because my regular shoes were wet).

even now i can still taste garlic in my mouth!