This is a low

20:42 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

For me, the adventure truly began in Yunnan, deepest rural China. I'd lived in China for 18 months but hadn't found the time to visit. Everyone who went to Yunnan told me how wonderful it was. Finally, it was my time.

My first impressions of Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan were very promising. Warm air, bright sunlight and a relaxed pace to life. China was staring to ware on my girlfriend Erin, what with all the mosquitos, cold showers and endless staring at us. But that was all forgotten as we were invited into a little park store room to watch a group of musical pensioners practise their instruments. The Pipa (guitar thingy), erhu (stringed watzit) and high-pitched singing combined to produce a sound that was painfully grating to my Western ears. Despite this, it was a really special experience to have our own little show. Even Erin let down her guard and enjoyed the moment. So did the pensioners too, who began practising what little English they knew whilst they played - "England" and "US money!"
Dancing in the park
One of my favourite hobbies and Erin's most despised, is cycling. I coaxed Erin into an afternoon of cycling around the Green Lake Park in Kunming. I don't know how Erin spent her youth but it certainly wasn't playing out on a bike. Imagine Bambi on a bike with a docker's dirty mouth and you begin to get the picture. She turned the air blue as she very slowly wobbled down pleasant, tree-lined pavements. It was supposed to be a little practise ride before we we spent the day cycling round Dali. After a few hours, Erin was spent. With bruised shins and white knuckles she fell asleep as soon as we got back to the hostel. I hoped somewhere behind the swearing, bravado and smart-arse comments she found a little bit of herself enjoying the ride. We can all dream!
Erin taking a breather
The next day, we visited the "Bird and Flower Market". It sounds lovely doesn't it? Well, it wasn't. I'm hardened to China's treatment of animals but Erin isn't and she was pretty upset to see cats, dogs and even piglets crammed into tiny cages. The market really put a downer on the rest of the day.

Thankfully, that evening we were booked on a night train to travel to Dali. We boarded the night train to find we were in a four berth cabin, with pregnant Chinese lady and a Chinese fella in a corduroy suit. The first few hours of the trip were fine and we were all soon asleep in our bunks.

I woke around 2am, with my stomach feeling like it was rolling in my belly. My body swayed with the movement of the train and nausea swelled inside. I tried to control it but it was inevitable. I was going to be sick on a Chinese night train. When I couldn't hold it any longer, I sprang from my bunk and sprinted down the carriage. I bust through the toilet door and sprayed sick everywhere. This being China, the toilet smelt rotten and I threw up all over again. It was grim. Exhausted, I dragged my sorry arse back to bed. There was more to come. I had to be sick a second time, a third, a fourth. I was up and down so much I lost count. One time, I wasn't quite quick enough and threw up in my mouth before I could get out of bed.  In a retching panic I tried to scramble out of the cabin and the bloody door handle fell off. There I was with sick in my mouth, body still heaving whilst I tried to fix the door in the dark and tried not to wake my sleeping companions. Safe to say, it was a low moment.

When morning came, I was weak and defeated. That pleasant sunlight and quiet pace in Kunming felt a million miles away. We left the train and fell into a taxi. The taxi driver seemed to take glory in speeding over bumps and swerving between lanes but luckily for his upholstery, I had run out of stuff to throw up. Finally... finally, we checked into our room. I spent the whole day in bed, sleeping and resting. The adventure in rural China really had begun.

Chilling in Kunming. Little did I know I was going to see that coffee in a few hours

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