Tuesday, December 23, 2008


My post about China will be somewhat brief as to protect myself, the "M" people we were visiting, and the organization we encountered. So, this post may come across a little touristy- so if you want the "real" scoop of what we did, you'll have to ask me in person or maybe in an email. You never know who may be watching!

We had the wonderful chance of visiting friends of ours in Kunming, China after our time in Bangladesh. There was a direct flight which was an experience in itself. I promise to never complain about "western" rules and regulations when it comes to on board luggage and security. Let's just say 4 or 5 carry on's were normal.

Kunming is a city with 6 million people. It is very modern- yet far behind the times. They have an open sewer which is affectionately named the "P.C." aka the Poop Canal. This 'water' is also used to water all of the park and floral areas. Open urination is common for children, so you can imagine between the two culprits some of the interesting smells you encounter. But then you pass by a little street vendor selling roasted sweet potatoes or a noodle shop and it smells good. How I wish pictures would do things like smell and sounds justice!

The PC

We stayed in a fabulous hotel. They are trying to encourage more western visitors so they have done some remodeling. We had down comforters and one of those rain shower heads. Breakfast, while there were "oil with a side of eggs" eggs, was pretty typical chinese including fried chicken feet. For $20 bucks a night and free breakfast- we couldn't refuse. And no, I did not partake in the fried chicken feet.

Walking is the primary means of transportation. There are also public buses and taxis. Bikes and scooters are also popular, but for most of the population, these are out of their price range. It was such an extreme country. We would be walking under a newly constructed massive raised highway with skyscrappers in the distance as we passed old construction, bundles of wire, open fire cooking, and goat slaughtering. There are no or very little zoning rules. Most people who own a shop of some kind also live there. It is a cramped city.

The Wet Market

Dinner :) They were roasting the feet with a blow torch- very funny
It is on the same latitude as Mexico City- but because of its high elevation it is called "land of the eternal spring". Though, it was cold when were there- in the 40's and maybe low 50's. Brrrrr- especially after 90 degree Bangladesh.

Warming up with my first Mocha in nearly 2 weeks at a western coffee shop

On our visit we visited and learned about different facets of an organization that helps people. They love on people in different ways and help them however they can- as long as they have permission from certain authorities to do so. This organization is so large it spans leoprasy prevention, treatment, and education; HIV/Aids awareness; a physical rehab center; a dental offshoot; a medical clinic (which was shut down the week before we arrived); work with CSW (commercial sex workers); agricultural development and education; and more! Basically within the Yunnan providence, they find needs of people in different areas from the villages that border Tibet, to the mountain Lusi people, to the jungles of Banna. They then communicate how they can help and then wait for permission to go and help. Its a dance of wills!

We were so blessed by all of the "M" people we met. From the 100+ foreigners to the 150+ Chinese nationals who have dedicated their passions to this organization.

We enjoyed an excursion about 3 hours into the mountains to visit the main agricultural center where we learned about slope farming and no till farming. This organization teaches farmers how to build their farms on the slopes of the mountains all while using no large/motorized tools or machines or even large farm animals like cattle. It is all done by hand- so that way the poorest of the poor can do it! They also had different animals there they were taking care of to teach local farmers how to properly care for different livestock. And warm, fresh goats milk tastes like sour string cheese if you were wondering!

Hello Goat!
The MountainsSlope farming- the layers are the fields
A mountain village

I learned so much about China and wish I could just spill it all. It is a land of extremes. Extreme cities. Extreme countryside. Extreme wealth. Extreme poverty. Extreme traditionalism. Extreme culture.
New office building in Kunming

Old buildings and the electrical nightmare

You cannot sum China into one sentence- or even a paragraph. Each area, each providence, even different cities have different cultures, customs, languages, foods and needs. It is a huge country with extreme darkness. There is light. There is hope. There is a future.

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