From the hustle and bustle of Shanghai I headed to the slightly smaller city of Kunming in the Yunnan province of China. That is the province on the south that borders Thailand, Burma, Laos and Vietnam. I knew nothing of this area short of an article I read about the abundance mushrooms in Saveur a year ago. Although at least two of my friends have stayed here for extended periods of time. Apparently this is the largest concentration of minorities in China, with many groups sharing more attributes with their southeast Asian neighbors than Han Chinese. The weather is mild and pleasant. Sunny 70 degree winters? I must be back home!
I arrived just in time for Sunday afternoon time at Green Lake Park. Everyone else in town seemed to be here too. The park was full of families, market stalls, and red lanterns celebrating the near end of Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival). In Shanghai, you often aren’t even allowed to step on the grass so it was fun to see families sprawled out in the wonderful weather all over the grassy areas.
There were multiple areas where people brought their own speakers and did what looked like ethnic minority singing and dancing either in line or circle form.
I wandered around for a bit and ate from the various stalls that were around. There were delicious meats on a stick covered in cumin and a chili powder. I ate some strawberries on a stick glazed in a candy coating. There were also various stalls selling pickles, something that seems to be a specialty of the region.
People also sat around doing what looked like oil painting. My favorite were the men who were painting what I assume were poems with water on the ground with huge mop sized brushes. The Chinese have a slightly tactless approach to curiosity so every activity, including me breaking out my sketchbook, involves multiple people coming up to you and looking at what you’re doing.
It is refreshing to get out of the snowing Shanghai winter into what feels like a pleasant sunny spring here in Kunming. Soon I will be back in the tropics for a slightly interrupted endless summer.