with a few hours to kill, i first decided to get some lunch, some more "cross-bridge" rice noodles at zhang brothers. service was lousy and the place was packed with people; i left after quickly finishing my bowl of noodles.

just an hour left before i had to go catch my bus, i made a last minute decision to go visit the kunming zoo one last time, to revisit my favorite animals. i went to the golden-haired monkey cage, but this time it was a different monkey, sort of mean looking.

why can't kids and elephants just get along?

(insert children abusing baby elephant story here)

i made a quick walk to the red panda compound, followed by the tigers, before crossing the amusement park (obviously designed by somebody with a perverse sense of humor: bits of awkward nudity accented several rides) to the aviary. the photographer i saw from a few days ago was there again as well; i wanted to ask him if he worked for the zoo but didn't get the chance. i figured if the zoo wanted animal photos, they would've equipped him with a longer lens than the wide angle i saw him using.

awkward carnival ride

i made it back to the hotel to pick up my bags and hailed a taxi to the bus station (RMB$11). immediately i was surrounded by touts asking me if i wanted to go to lijiang or yuanyang; i politely told them i've already been to those places. i sent my bags through the x-ray and walked through the metal detector (setting it off, since i had my cellphone in my pocket), but the guard didn't seem to care - which is very typical chinese, they have something so they can say they have it, but it either doesn't work or they don't use it. at the station i couldn't find my bus and the people who worked there weren't in an hurry to help, so i ran around the parking lot until the bus driver actually found me because we were about to leave soon.

the bus left the station around 3:30. i fell asleep almost immediately, waking up abruptly at an empty bus station, where the driver told everyone to get off the bus. a check of my gps revealed that we were in the opposite direction we wanted to be in. turns out the driver was getting the bus inspected and we waited there 30 minutes before the driver was able to bribe the attendants with enough cigarettes to get the necessary stamps. we then retraced our steps back to kunming before heading in the direction of anshun.

we stopped for food around 9pm, suspiciously at a middle-of-nowhere restaurant, which i suspect has some sort of kickback deal with the driver. we stayed there for almost 2 hours, with most people opting to wait outside than choosing to eat at a mediocre restaurant. if nothing else, i did get to see them kill a chicken though: plunk the neck feathers, slit its throat, then boil the barely-alive chicken with hot water before plucking the rest of the feathers. it was pretty brutal, but something that a lot of the people riding the bus had some knowledge of because they were giving out tips on how to properly kill a chicken.

at midnight the bus pulled to a stop as police officers got onboard and demanded everyone to show their identification papers. up to that point nobody suspected that i wasn't one of them, but when the police saw my passport, they started asking questions, and i had no choice but to answer, so everyone on the bus knew my story. they even searched my small backpack - once again, it was just for show - the only thing remotely illegal was a pair of stinky old shoes. i asked them what they were looking for, and they said drugs. thank god i decided to hide my brick of heroin in my bigger backpack!

in the middle of the night i found the bus once again stopped; apparently the bus driver decided he needed a good night's sleep, so instead of driving to our destination, he pulled over on the side of the road to get some rest. we didn't leave until the next morning. we were supposed to be in anshun by that point but instead we didn't get to anshun until 1pm.

today is a travel day. that means a long bus ride is in the forecast.

this morning i planned on going to the zoo but i felt sleep was more important. by the time i woke up, i just had breakfast in my room (turkey leg moon cake! washed down with a can of chinese herbal tea!) and packed up my stuff. i watched travel in chinese, my favorite morning show, a bilingual program to teach foreign speakers chinese grammar; i just watch it to be amazed at the chinese fluency of these non-native speakers.

here in china checkout time is regularly noon, and i went downstairs to get my deposit back (RMB$100) and to store my bags for a few hours while i wandered nearby kunming for a little while longer. "we all know you, no need to give you a tag," one of the girls working behind the desk told me.

my bus to anshun (guizhou province) is 3:30. none of the ladies i asked at the bus station knew how long it'd take, but from my own research, it looks to be 15 hours of sleeper bus action. i'll arrive in anshun tomorrow morning, finally leaving yunnan province after about a month. i won't see another big city until probably hong kong, sometime in october.