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  1. I went to the annual Kunming Tea Industry Expo yesterday (2018 昆明国际茶产业博览会) for a look around. Snapped some photos so you could see what it was like. It was held at a large conference center 国贸 -- 昆明国际会展中心。If you know Kunming, it's not far from the old (now closed) Wujiaba Airport 巫家坝机场, off Chuncheng Road 春城路。No admission fee, but registration required. They give you a badge to wear around your neck and a program with a layout map of exhibitors and schedule of events. (You can click these photos to enlarge them.) This was mainly a conference and expo t
  2. abcdefg

    Burning some incense 烧佛香

    Two old friends are having serious surgery within the next week to ten days. They asked me to burn some incense for them, hoping that it might help tilt the odds towards a good outcome. They're not very religious and neither am I, but we figured it couldn't hurt. We are in the middle of rainy season here in Kunming, but this afternoon a few hours of unscheduled sunshine allowed me to ride my bike over to Tanhua Temple 昙花寺, where I did what I could. Snapshots from the visit. (You can click the photos to enlarge them.) Entry and exterior courtyard.
  3. These wild mushrooms thrive when a couple of rainy days are followed by half a day or so of sun. That’s how it’s been this summer, and it has led to a bumper crop. As you probably already know, Yunnan is China’s top producer of wild mushrooms. We harvest a couple dozen varieties in the mountainous parts of the province. Lots of them are exported regionally, bringing top dollar in the fine dining restaurants of Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. I used to just buy them at my nearby farmers market, until I was convinced by local friends to visit the mother lode late this spring. By this they
  4. Here's the backstory to yesterday's recipe. (Link, in case you missed it: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/56622-spicy-green-peppers-and-mushrooms-香菇炒青椒/?tab=comments#comment-438182 ) Let me give you a look at my trip to the outdoor market for the ingredients. It's a look at my neighborhood wet market in early summer. It's also a daily-life taste of the non-tourist China. (As usual, you can click the photos to enlarge them.) It was clear that lots of people had the same idea at the same time because it was hard to find a place to park my bike outside the gat
  5. When I'm out and about I always engage in some degree of "environment mining" to review practical, daily-life (written) vocabulary by simply looking at signs. Often find simple things I'd forgotten or didn't know. Yesterday I rode the subway/MTR/地铁 here in Kunming and took some phone snapshots to show you one easy way to re-enforce or expand your vocabulary at a beginner or intermediate level. The context helps understanding and makes things "stick" better. I do this this with many activities and in many places. For example, I nearly always do this with restaurant menus while I'm
  6. abcdefg

    A dip in the hot springs 泡温泉

    Yunnan is blessed with lots of geothermal activity which is frequently harnessed as hot springs for recreation and bathing. Until you have lived here a while, it's difficult to grasp the role these glorious places play in day to day life. Consider for a minute that most ordinary older homes here use solar hot water 太阳能热水 which goes AWOL if the weather is cold and rainy. And consider also the design priorities of ordinary older homes that allocate the bathing area to a shower head rigged in a couple square feet above the traditional squat toilet 凳子厕所。These factors don't make
  7. abcdefg

    A walk in the park

    We have had glorious weather recently: blue skies with daytime highs in the low 20's (low 70's Fahrenheit.) Too nice to stay inside. This morning I rode my bike over to Tanhua Temple Park 昙花寺公园 to listen to music and read my book, to let my pineal gland benefit from the strong sunlight. Entrance is not imposing, set back away from traffic and noise. (Below left.) Small parking lot accommodates visitors cars. No tour busses come here. Locals outnumber tourists. No bilingual signage; they seldom receive foreigners. As of National Day this year, (November first) the park was "adopted
  8. I saw a splendid Tibetan Thangka 唐卡 exhibit a couple days ago when it stopped in Kunming. It had over a hundred paintings and occupied most of the first floor at Kunming's City Museum 昆明市博物馆。As you may know, this is a Tibetan Buddhist art form that originated thousands of years ago as devotional aids. Many are Mandalas and contain figures from Tibetan Buddhist iconography. Some made their way to China via the Silk Road 丝绸之路, and a collection exists in the Mogao Caves 莫高窟 of Dunhuang 敦煌 (Gansu.) Some are painted on canvas, others on silk. Often they have a fabric background with wo
  9. December is here and a bright sunny day is a gift not to be wasted. Rode out a couple days ago to Kunming's Daguan Park 大观公园, which is built on a branch of Lake Dian 滇池 in the west edge of the city. This park is famed for a long rhyming couplet engraved on the doorposts of a three-story pavilion where the Kangxi Emperor 康熙 used to visit to enjoy the "grand view" 大观 of West Hills 西山 mountains as seen over the water. The poem is still there, but most visitors today find it underwhelming. Instead the main draw is the willows, the lotus flowers in season, and the blue water. It's a tr
  10. abcdefg

    Kunming's fall colors

    Kunming is best known for its flowering trees that begin blooming very early in spring, often defying light night frost to do so. But last week I found a fine blaze or two of fall color in another of Kunming's minor parks, this one called Lotus Pool Park 莲花池公园。It's easy to get to and free, virtually undiscovered by tourists, although enjoyed with great regularity by locals. I entered by a back way, having ridden the number 29 Bus, and the first thing I saw inside the gate was an elderly man practicing water calligraphy 水书法 on the slate paving stones of the open courtyard.
  11. Not only is Yuantong Temple 圆通寺 ancient, beautiful, and peaceful, it's a bargain at only 6 Yuan. In a time where many of China's tourist attractions have become inflated in price and swarmed by crowds of selfie-snapping yokels, Yuantong Temple remains blissfully small scale. It's someplace I visit a couple times every year. Let me take you along on my most recent trip, a week or so ago. Near sections of the approaching block of Yuantong Street 圆通路 are lined with shops selling incense, icons, and assorted religious paraphenalia. One almost always finds soothsayers 算命 squatting on lo
  12. Kunming sometimes gets a bad rap in travel forums as not having much to see, as being a place to change trains and pass through quickly on the way to the spectacular mountains of Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La. Living here has given me the opportunity to explore what is actually on offer, but for whatever reason has not been broadly publicized. Yesterday I visited one of our minor parks, Tanhua Temple Park 昙花寺公园, little known to outsiders. I go there a couple times a year. Let me take you along this time. (Remember, you can click the images to enlarge them.)
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