Posted by: Brian | March 29, 2009

My Classmate Says It Was Karma… I Say It Was A Slippery Step

The temple in question

The temple in question

Forgive the age of this post (happened two weeks ago), but I’ve just gotta share this story.

On Saturday, March 14th, I sacrificed my digital camera to Buddha. Well, not exactly, but that’s pretty close. Here’s what happened.

My friend Wei and I are sitting in our writing class the previous day, and we’re both complaining about the next class because neither of us like it. Then Wei gets an inspiration, and we have a bit of dialogue:

“Dude,” Wei says (he says that a lot), and looks at me. “What if instead of going to listening class… we go to Dali for the weekend?”

“Sounds awesome,” I say, “let’s do it.”

Wei laughs.

“Yeah,” he says, “that would be awesome.”

He goes back to playing a game on his phone. I glare at him.

“I’m serious. Let’s do it. Screw class, let’s go home, throw some bags together, and be on a bus heading to Dali within the next two hours.”

Wei looks at me.

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah, I’m serious,” I say, rolling my eyes. “I just told you I was. Let’s get out of here.”

That’s how that conversation went, more or less. Instead of going to our next class, we went back to the foreign student dorms, rounded up four friends to come along, and were on our way to Dali in about two hours.

This monk totally watched me fall.

This monk totally watched me fall.

For those of you that aren’t aware, and I’m assuming that’s most of the people reading this, Dali is a really cool town in Yunnan Province, about 5 hours north of Kunming by bus. It’s a hot tourist destination, so things are a little more expensive than elsewhere, but it’s by no means bad. I think I spent a grand total of around $130-140 dollars including transportation, lodging, a ton of food, and some souvenirs.

Five hours of sitting on a bus later, we get there, have an amazing tibetan dinner at Jim’s Peace Cafe, and call it a night.

Saturday was… intense. We had a pretty solid plan, mostly based on recommendations from the Lonely Planet guidebook. We rented bikes and rode south from Old Town Dali (it’s divided into a historical area and and modern one). First stop? A Buddhist temple. Yep, that Buddhist temple. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a nice place, with really cool architecture, tons of Chinese burning incense, a little chanting and singing… you get the idea.

I was wandering around the grounds taking pictures, which admittedly was my motivation for visiting in the first place, when I decided to climb up some stairs to a small altar that’s surrounded by a pond filled with goldfish. Sounds cool, right? It was, and it still would be in my opinion were it not for those steps. After so many people walking up and down them, they’d become a little too smooth.

Climbing up a pagoda at the end of the day

Climbing up a pagoda at the end of the day

On my way back down, I slipped. Instinctively, both my arms shot out in an effort to grab the railing and catch myself. The unfortunate side effect of that action was that my camera went flying. I watched in some kind of slow-motion horror as it floated through the air and dropped into the pond with a very anti-climactic kerplunk.

I’m standing scraped up, bleeding a little, camera-less, and all I could do was laugh. Don’t get me wrong, losing my camera was no fun, and losing all the cool pictures I’d taken was even more unfortunate, but somehow it seemed ironic. Maybe I should have burned some incense.

I’ve since replaced my old point-and-shoot with a great new Nikon D60 DSLR, if you were wondering. I keep two hands on it, and always use the neck strap.



  1. Ouch. Funny/sad story, man, though the mental image of you launching your camera into the pond is priceless.

  2. If your camera kind of passed away, then how come you’ve got those pictures? Cool post! THE funniest memory EVER! ( BUT I feel sorry for your camera! )

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