Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stone percussion: 石林

The Stone Forest is about an hour and half northeast of Kunming. Apparently, it's as big as a tourist attraction as the Over-the-Bridge Noodles. At the bus ticket station, I wait for an hour, watching commuters, tourists and travelers rush on and off buses to their destinations. On the bus, we're still missing one person, namely the person supposed to sit next to me. People in the back yell, "Just leave, that person's already paid but isn't showing up." In a few moments, a girl gets on the bus, and a few passengers grunt and shuffle. The girl takes her seat, and the bus takes off.
Azuneshi is also a student studying abroad from Japan in Hangzhou. She surprised I'm not Chinese. During the bus ride up to Shilin, we talk about our reasons for being in China. She likes Chinese tea - I guess Japanese tea ceremonies were boring to her. She's in Yunnan to observe and survey the local tea factories and fields, hoping to get some inspiration for her master's degree thesis. She mentions that she's traveling with a group of Korean students, all staying at a hostel run by a Korean man who only lets Koreans stay at his hostel. "I'm lucky," she says.
The Stone Forest is much bigger than I thought, and it's nice to have someone to converse with while walking around the park. Some areas of the park have a Jurassic Park atmosphere,

creating imaginary fears that a pack of velociraptors may be hiding behind boulders and behind bushes, watching me. While walking around, we come across a tourist group from Guangdong, asking us to take pictures of them. Ten digital cameras and way too many victory signs later, they all guess our nationalities. They get mine right, but when they try to guess Azuneshi's, they stumble. "Korean," Azuneshi says. They all smile, saying, "I knew it" as they walk to the next photo op. She looks at me and says, "I'm kind of hesitant to say I'm Japanese, especially since I've been to Nanjing." I decide not to press the conversation further and just enjoy the scenery.

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