Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The bare necessities

A quick update on my whereabouts。。。 I‘m in Dali, a pretty popular tourist/backpacker town in northwestern Yunnan Province。 Last post, Iwas in Shangri La, near the Sichuan border。 From there I went to Lijiang, which has an old town that’s been labeled a Unesco World Heritage site, but feels more like Disney Land。 Dali also has an old town, but it‘s home to more practical things, rather than street after street of souvenir stalls。I plan to spend a few days in the area,as there’s plenty to do。 Dali sits right next to a lake,and I intend to hire a bike and go around the lake over two or three days。 Some nice villages to stop at along the way。 After that, I‘m debating over a couple options。 More later。

And now for some basics, which I‘m sure you’ll be interested in。 At least my parents are every time Italk to them。

How/what do Ieat?

I haven‘t gone hungry yet。 And I’ve eaten remarkably little western food。 I‘ve had a cheeseburger twice and the odd order of fries at a hostel。 But typically, it’s Chinese all the way。I tend not to eat at hostels, as it is quite a bit more expensive than eating at a neighborhood restaurant。 I can say/read only a few food-related things in Chinese, so Ido tend to eat the same foods frequently。 I know how to order beef noodles, boiled dumplings and steamed buns like a pro, and I can read the symbols for those items。 Other times, I‘ll just point to something on the menu and hope it’s good。 Or if I‘m with a group of people, we can get several items to share, with rice。

It’s also fun to browse what street vendors have on offer and just ask for one of whatever they‘re serving up。 Usually quite tasty。 I‘ve had some amazing breads and fried dumplings。 My favorite dish so far was in Xian--Lamb soup with shredded bread, noodles and vegetables。 It felt like a bottomless meal。 Typically, I’ll spend about 30 to 60 cents for breakfast (usually some type of bread) and around 80 cents to 1。50 for lunch and dinner, unless I‘m slurging。 A homemade burger and fries today cost me three bucks。

How do I communicate?

People speak English in the weirdest of places。 I’ve found more people able (or willing) to speak it in smaller towns than in Beijing。 But it‘s not necessary。 Hand signals work wonders。 You can come up with a mime for nearly everything。 Also, the limited Chinese I know comes in handy nearly every day。 I‘m pretty proficient in numbers and know other important words like “today” and “tomorrow,” which are essential for arranging transportation。

So regardless of what you might have thought (or hoped for), I’m not entirely helpless here in China。 I‘m getting fed (good food) and I’m feeling quite unrestricted。

And since I know you’ve been so worried, Yes I‘m feeling quite a bit better。 I don’t know whether the herbal rememdy is to blame or time and warmer weather have done the trick。 Either way, fever is gone and just a bit of cough left。

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