Asia | China | Yunnan Province | Kunming – Bargaining for lychees
Sending off Wang Rui at the airport, I had a nice lunch with his friend Dong Wei. He definitely was an interesting character, a businessman and philosopher in one. The Hewlett-Packard representative in Kunming and driving around in his private Toyota minivan, he was a typical example of the educated younger generation benefitting from a free-market economy. Yet he tried to convince me that Mao Zedong was a great leader and the Cultural Revolution did more good than bad. People like him and Wang Rui showed me a certain open-minded and care-free quality among the younger generation of Chinese that I didn’t see before, and was probably the most refreshing experience of the trip.
I walked down Shun Cheng Street, a Muslim neighborhood lined with eateries and workshops making signs for Muslim stores. I saw an old woman grinding fresh corn on a stone grinder, and a middle-aged woman working over a skillet, as if they belonged to a street scene from 20 years ago. She was among many of the laid-off workers from the government owned factories, and now made a living making corn pancakes with her mother. She poured the individually prepared batter into the skillet, and handed it to me in corn husk with all the fragrance of fresh corn wrapped inside.
I ate from one food stall to another, almost giggling from the tinkle of the drizzling rain on my face. I stopped at book and music stores and browsed through trendy boutiques. I stopped to buy Burmese rose, a small white flower with mesmerizing fragrance that locals pin onto their collars. I bargained for lychees following the other white collar women rushing home from work. I lost track of time and had been walking for 4-5 hours before I knew.