Sunday, June 11, 2006

sino journal four

Hello from Monday June 12th.

Saturday June 10th was a bit of a waste in terms of the faculty development seminar. We spent from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. traveling until we checked into a five-star hotel, the best in the city of Kunming. It is nice but a little excessive.

We had the evening off so I contacted another friend of Joshua’s and spent the evening with him. (It looks like the plans for my twelve-day extension are shaping up.) We went to an international coffee house he helps run and had dinner – a delicious Malaysian dish. I then visited his apartment and met his family. We then went to a teahouse for an “English Corner” where people go to practice their spoken English. I really had a lot of fun just visiting with people.

I brought a little photo album along with pictures of my family. (Of course, almost half of the photos are of the lovely and most beautiful Miss Lois.) This led to a real ego boost. People were shocked that someone as young as Mr. Robert could be a grandfather. One asked me how old I was and still could not believe it when I told them. I showed a picture of Sue and they were amazed that someone her age could look so young.

A lovely young women in her twenties exclaimed after seeing the picture of Sue, “She looks younger than me!” I assured the young lady that I had seen both and that she was definitely younger looking. Of course, I was merely being kind and diplomatic to the poor thing. (Did you really think Sue would skip over this section?)

My three sons are handsome and my three daughters are so beautiful. I had a picture of from K&K’s wedding where Kelly is standing up in the jeep in her wedding dress and wearing sunglasses. One young woman commented that it looked like something from a Hollywood movie.

Therefore, thanks to my photogenic family, I am quite a hit in this part of Yunnan Province.

Sunday June 11th was a long day. We went to the University of Yunnan and visited an absolutely outstanding and beautiful museum. It was thoroughly modern but still had a Chinese feeling. We then had two lectures on minority groups in SW China and then toured the campus. This university is even more beautiful than the one in Emei. We had a couple of hours free in the afternoon to wonder in part of a city, had dinner, and then a 10 p.m. flight to Dali.

I made the mistake of having laundry done in a 5-star hotel. I am used to everything being so cheap that I did not calculate the cost. For a half dozen pairs of socks, half dozen pairs of underwear, two shirts and a pair of khakis, the bill came to about $40. I could have bought the clothes here for that much.

Out flight to Dali from Kunming took only 40 minutes or so. This airport is so small that it closed before we had the bus loaded. I kid you not, we flew on Lucky Airline. This did not inspire confidence in my colleagues. Neither did the music we heard as we found our seats on the plane. I do not know the name of the song but it was from the movie Titanic. I am sure CIEE got a great fare.

We just got into the hotel in Dali. This is the nicest hotel yet, 5-star too, and has free internet where I can use SLU’s Virtual Private Network (VPN). This means no monitoring of my emails and activity in China. Plus, I can go the BBC and other websites for uncensored news (PRC blocks access western news sites). We will be here until Wednesday morning.

The director of the trip is letting us sleep in on Monday June 12th. Everyone is pretty wiped out.

Be blessed!

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