Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Breakfast in Yunnan
So many China moments start with the best intentions. Last weekend was a good example of how what seemed like an adventure and a beyond-creative way to mark our 30th anniversary turned into something else.

Let's start with the fact that after a lovely dinner out, Bob and I went to bed knowing we had to get up at 4:30 for this trip. But I knew there were editors in America who were working on something I had written. So when I woke up at 2:30, I checked my email. Two hours later, I was still at it. Dear editors on the east coast of the United States: just add 12 hours. Please.

Anyway, we headed off to Yunnan where I had agreed to accompany Bob on a trip. We had to drive over bone-jarring roads. ( Note to Caleb and Cynthia and Anne: the Yunnan roads we traveled in May were not an aberration.)

Then I watched Bob in action doing interviews. From what I could tell, no question went unasked. I was operating on two hours of sleep. I had had goat for dinner. I came dangerously close to falling apart. Some might say my threats to hire a driver to take me to the Kunming airport and leave that very evening argue that I did indeed fall apart. But 30 years of marriage means that Bob recognizes my tendency toward empty threats.

Anyway, after a very good night's sleep I woke ready to face the day, which was good because I needed some energy for this day. We began with a breakfast of rice noodles and other assorted things, made not too "la," spicy, for the foreigners. Frank, bless him, travels with instant coffee, which he happily supplied. Frank, on a side note, was our guide for our last Yunnan trip and a BFD in these parts. All the Chinese call him Flan-ke, and this adventure would not have been possible without Flan-ke. Thank you, I think.

Then a day in the hot sun. I'm leaving the details intentionally vague. There will be more later.  I can say it was quite the festival atmosphere, with vendors selling all sorts of food and plastic toys. I don't know how a big fat donkey head, freshly separated from the rest of him, serves as a draw for a stand selling what I would have to assume is donkey meat. But this is how I know I'm not in Kansas. My having goat for dinner was quite enough. In fact after that, I annointed myself a vegetarian for the rest of the weekend.

Maybe it was the sight of a goat being slaughtered as we lingered in town. The line between living animals and dinner is far thinner in these parts of the world.

After the sun got too much for us, we left, only to find our van completely blocked in by cars and the parking guy not especially concerned that we were trapped. Since being stuck in uncomfortable spots was turning out to be a theme of the weekend, it seemed totally appropriate. We hired a van to take us to our hotel. All I wanted at that point was a cold beer. I settled for warm water in the room; I didn't have the energy to venture out for more than that.

Later, I had my beer, so the day ended well. The next day brought more beer and a torch festival...something for the record books. Stay tuned for a story of ashes.


  1. You know what they say: eat everything with four legs but the table!

    - Jo

  2. "Then I watched Bob in action doing interviews. From what I could tell, no question went unasked."
    that's definitely my M.O.