Posted by: Brian | June 10, 2009

Doing Nothing: It’s an Art

Chilled pineapple juice. Does a body good.

Chilled pineapple juice. Does a body good.

Xishuangbanna – southern China, tropical, bordering Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar *involuntary shudder*. It’s a fun destination, with a fascinating mix of asian cultures. You can hop the border into the first two of the above-mentioned countries, go see an elephant preserve, visit local villages… all kinds of stuff. What did I do?

Absolutely nothing. Really.

It wasn’t on purpose exactly; that’s just how things turned out. My friends and I took a sleeper bus down from Kunming, and I’m pleased to report that it was by far the nicest I’ve ever seen in China. My German friend Jenny says that’s because the manufacturer was a German company, and I’m inclined to agree with her.

Anyway, we got there crazy-early in the morning, as is typical of these bus rides. After finding a cheap hotel, we promptly crashed and got another three or four hours of sleep. Woke up in time for lunch – a bit too early, in fact; half of the shops and restaurants we walked past weren’t even open yet. This was at noon, mind you. That should some indication as to the pace at which everyone takes life around here.

The weather is hot, sticky, and has been raining sporadically since our arrival. Other than the rain, it reminds me of spring in San Antonio or Corpus Christi. To combat the weather, we’re doing everything slowly. We walk slowly, talk slowly, make decisions slowly; I think the only time we did anything quickly was when we rented bicycles to ride around town for a bit.

Most of our time was spent in one cafe or another – drinking chilled mango or pineapple juice, eating Thai or local Dai cuisine (“ghost chicken” was a highlight), and chatting with other travelers. We met an Australian, an Israeli, some expats, and of course the owners of each establishment. Upon seeing my camera, one Chinese man furiously scribbled down a web address –, I think – and asked me to take a look at it. It’s for photos of Xishuanbanna, he said, take a look at it! I did. It’s one of the ugliest websites I’ve ever seen. Straight-up looks like it came out of the 1990s.

I got some writing done, reviewed some music for Independent Clauses (shameless plug), and generally had a good time. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as some of my other excursions, but it was a nice change of pace. I love weekends like that – slow, with an abundance of food, drink, and conversation. Good times.


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