Erhai Park

Nicholas Quirke was having breakfast in the hotel when a young man approached him and asked, after a brief introduction, if he could sit with him on 5 September 2020. Encountering yet another English speaking Chinese citizen in such a shorter space of time was a surprise and as they were both intending to explore Erhai Park which was conveniently located behind the hotel the agreed to go together. The entrance to the park was a short distance from the hotel and also looked out onto the beautiful lake. The entrance was also a steep flight, in fact flights of steps. And when they were about halfway, and slightly out of breath they were approached by 3 exotically dressed and equally breathless men who were interested and delighted to see a Laowai there and they presented him with some beads, which appropriately matched the colour of his shirt. His new friend Tamar was slightly piqued that he had not been so bestowed, but as they reached the top, one of the exotics had chased after them and made a gift of beads to Tamar. It turned out they were from Guilin but they loved Dali so much they had decided to stay and find work there. The views of the lake from the park, the pavilions the plants and trees were all beautiful and there was such a feeling of tranquillity he could understand why the Buddhist gentlemen wanted to make a life there. For himself, and his friend Tamar, there was no such luxury as both were returning to their respective home cities that day. After navigating the steep steps down to the entrance, which his friend found particularly perilous they said goodbye and Nicholas made his way to the pharmacy to get a bandage for his burn. He relaxed, checked his packing and then made his way to the train station to start the journey back to Beijing. On the train to Kunmimng after having already shown his passport twice, he was asked for his passport, his ticket, his health kit and had his temperature checked. He sarcastically asked the guard, who didn’t understand him, if he thought he would have been able to get on the train without all of this being checked. His words for once had been understood by his neighbour and his girlfriend who was sitting across the aisle. He was thus introduced to Anthony and Doreen who were also headed to the airport. It was a lively conversation about the tyranny of living under a communist regime but oddly some of the examples they quoted were actually laws in England. When they got to discuss the transfer from the train station it became apparent that they too were appalled by the connection from Kunming to its International airport and they agreed to share a car, which turned out to cost only 20 Yuan each (£2) for a 50 minute drive as they made use of a car share; a car that was going to the airport anyway but prepared to take passengers cheaply. The journey was easy and though his mind was on the bizarre events of his 2018 visit to the Airport he was flying from, it was an easy passage from check in to gate, though he did lose his friends on arrival as he had to go through numerous checks and it seemed mean to make them wait for him. The only hiccup he experienced was after he had eaten a very plain bowl of noodles, he sat down at the gate and started charging and using his technology till something made him check his ticket and he discovered he was at completely the wrong gate. He still had 50 minutes before departure but as the gates seemed to be at the opposite ends of the concourse, boarding had already started by the time he reached the correct gate. It was 11pm by the time he reached Beijing Daxing airport and the trains had stopped so it was either bus or a Didi. The Didi turned out to be 100 Yuan (£11.00). Once again he marvelled at how cheap transport could be in China as the journey was almost and hour and if a car travelled a similar distance in UK he knew he would be charged about £70. He felt good to be back and to have the short opportunity to catch up with Peng before the weary traveller had to go to sleep.

1 Comment

  1. Good to hear you got to speak to so many people on this trip and you must be getting famous with everyone wanting a photo of you! Loved the gift of beads too x

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