Day 3:Beijing to Kunming (July 27th)
I woke in a bit of panic to the phone in our room ringing. I remember been in the middle of an intense dream, but I can’t remember what it was about now. I asked Kim the time and was pleased to hear it was 5am and we still had 20 minutes before we needed to be in the lobby to get our shuttle.
After brushing our teeth and deciding we’d wait to Kunming before showering we went to the lobby to catch the shuttle. I quickly took advantage of the working wifi in the lobby to send a couple messages out to folks back home. Fortunately this time while the shuttle was full it wasn’t so packed that we needed to put the luggage on our laps. The ride this morning was also quicker as we were departing from a different terminal.
Once we arrived after asking some staff we found our way to the check-in. I had a minor scare when they made me put my bad through the x-ray machine twice. I also asked about our special meals on the flight since I was worried that after the schedule change we wouldn’t be getting them. I attempted to ask in English, but it was clear she wasn’t understanding so I turned to the Google Translate app. After using it she confirmed we wouldn’t be able to request special meals. I wasn’t thrilled, but it also wasn’t a surprise so it wasn’t to upsetting.
With a couple of hours before our flee decided to look for some food. Kim found a place that looked like she could get something to eat (she eats mostly vegetarian) and pointed to an egg dish. She paid and then was given 3 steamed buns with beef. We laughed about and she reluctantly ate 2. Finding food for me was more challenging, but we actually found a place with some options. Google translate came in handy again to explain my dietary restrictions. Everything I got was vegan! Success… except the food was pretty awful. It featured a warm cup of soy milk, steamed broccoli and carrots, some unidentifiable pickled vegetables and some bread sticks. In the very least it was something though. Kim bought some Pringles and we both got orange juice from the store for later.
While eating I managed to briefly get connected to the wifi and VPN again which gave me the chance to check some messages on Facebook and quickly video chat with my partner Shantel. It was so nice to see her and hear her voice! We couldn’t chat long though since we needed to make our way to our gate to board the flight.
Waiting to board it seemed like it was taking longer than expected so Kim asked a young guy next to us and he directed us to go forward. Turns out they had already started to board our flight and we were in the wrong line! From there we got the shuttle which took us to the plane. As we got seated the flight attendant came by to confirm with us that we had special meals! It was quite a pleasant surprise. Otherwise the 2.5 hour flight went by pretty quickly as I caught up with some writing and watched “Game Night”. It was enjoyable enough and helped pass the time. Kim opted to watch “Blockers” which I think she enjoyed more than me. The only unfortunate part of this plane ride (beside getting food on myself again) was the annoying little kid behind me that kicked my chair endlessly. The child’s mother of course slept the whole way with a mask on so there wasn’t much I could do to stop her since she clearly didn’t speak English.
Once we arrived in Kunming the hotel had a driver waiting to pick us up. It felt very VIP since its not normally something I would do. The drive to the hotel was pleasant as we were able to relax knowing we were in good hands. It cost us 150 Yuan for the drive rather than the 5 Yuan per person it cost to take metro). 100 Yuan = roughly 18 dollar. If I had known the price difference I would have definitely taken the metro, but in the end it isn’t the end of the world. Plus, if we hadn’t taken the ride we would have never met Stav at the airport. Like us he was staying at the Lost Garden, but hadn’t arranged a driver. Talking with him on the ride over we learned that this was his 2nd time in China and that he was traveling here from Israel. From what I gathered he was quite well traveled and probably in his early 30s. He had recently just quit his job managing an educational non-profit. We instantly bonded over our shared work experience as he explained that prior to managing the non profit that he worked coaching and mentoring young adults for it. It was really cool talking with someone who had experience doing the same kind of work, but in a totally different part of the world. In addition to talking about our work he shared a bit about Israel and we talked about Canada. It was such a wonderful experience!
Once we arrived at the hotel we went our separate ways and I found myself wishing we had invited out for dinner with us all. Kim and I then decided to take a walk around the neighborhood just to explore a bit before my brother in law, nephew, and niece arrived at 3:30pm. With the both of us being terrible with directions we were quickly disoriented. I say disoriented rather than lost because I never really nervous. Once we got back on track (Kim asked someone and I was able to connect to Google Maps) we made our way back to the hotel just before they arrived.
After everyone was settled we went wandering around the neighborhood a bit again. My favorite part of our walk was exploring the park centered around Green Lake. I’m not it is normally so alive or if we caught it on a busier day, but it was quite bustling. There were a number of performers throughout the park either dancing or playing instruments. After wandering for a bit we stopped in Starbucks to get a snack for my niece that wasn’t feeling well and of ran into Stav again.
From there we went back to the hotel for my sister and niece to rest. Then my nephew Adam, brother in law Talaal and I did a bit more exploring before going back to the hotel to meet Staf at 6:30 to go for dinner. It ended up just being us four that wanted to go out for dinner and we quickly decided on a vegetarian buffet a short walk away. It was a bit hidden, but worth searching for since it gave me piece of mind knowing I could eat there. I was so pleased to see this on the wall when I walked into the place.
It was also great to see that the buffet was only 20 Yuan. I wasn’t in love with the food(it was way better than the airport food though), but my brother in law really enjoyed and more than anything the company was great. Unsurprisingly I suppose the conversation turned to politics pretty quickly which is usually a sure bet way to keep me interested. After our food we wandered for a little while longer and continued to chat about Israel, Canada and travel. I really can’t express how much I love connecting with a total stranger in such a special way. Once returning to the hotel I asked for a photo and we parted ways.
Later in the evening my nephew Adam and I bonded sharing stories about life. It was great to get some alone time with him to bond a bit more especially as he’s moving to Hamilton at the end of August. Then just before heading to bed I had the chance to video chat with my partner before she got her day started.