Jian Shui to Kunming, China

Written September 5, 2011

The final thing I wanted to see in Jian Shui before returning to Kunming was the Twin Dragon Bridge (Shuāng Lóng Qiáo, 双龙桥) about five kilometers outside of town. Supposedly you can take the #4 mini bus, but I didn’t want to waste time figuring out another bus. Instead I flagged down a taxi and asked how much to take me there, wait, and then bring me back. It cost me 40 yuan ($6), down from 50 yuan, but I didn’t bargain very hard. When I got in the taxi the driver handed me a baozi  (a filled steam bun). “Thanks, I’m hungry,” I told him. He laughed and we were on our way.

Along both sides of the road out to the bridge are stone mason shops with cut building stone and decorative stone sculptures lining the street. Even on a Sunday morning men were working at the edge of the road making for a dusty drive.

The bridge itself is a small gem against the gray morning sky in an otherwise grubby, dusty landscape. The river below low and littered. I snapped a few photos and we headed back to town.

On the way back to the hotel to get my things I noticed some food stalls down a side street and ended up at an outdoor food market. The deeper I explored the dark aisles the more intriguing it got, long tables of men butchering sides of pork. Across the road was a beef and lamb area – at a safe distance from the pork – serving the local Muslim community. 

Also of note was a small wet market with tubs of fish, various hams and other dried meats, live doves, roast duck, a woman milling fresh corn (for the juice I think) and a bakery. I picked up some more baozi and flat bread for the bus trip back to Kunming.

On the way to the Jian Shui bus station the local bus hit a major traffic jam.  People and various types of vehicles, facing in every direction, not paying any attention to which lane was which. When the bus stopped face to face with another car I gave up and, with some other women, got out and walked the last kilometer to the station.

The bus ride back was long but pretty through the green terraced hills of Yunnan province. They play movies on a small TV hanging at the front of the bus. Generally action or slapstick type movies so you don’t have to pay much attention or understand the conversation to follow the story.

Three and half hours later we arrived back at the Kunming South Transport Passenger Station. Just past where they let you off is a row of express buses leaving for the train station (huó chē zhàn, 火车站). The C71, turns out, is an express bus that goes directly from the south bus terminal to an express bus station near the Kunming train station in about 40 minutes. From there it is just a short taxi ride back to the Keats School.

Takeout roast duck for dinner. Next to my corner noodle place is a takeout duck place (Bĕijīng kăo yā, 北京烤鸭) that the young Italian woman told me was quite good. More importantly she told me how to order, “bànde,” or a half one. I walked up to the window and four Chinese stare at me. One of them asks me, “yi ge”? (one) and I respond, “bànde”. They all cheer and laugh and one of starts going on something about how well I speak Chinese. (Ironically, I can only follow the general idea.) It helps to know the right word for a given situations. Thank you Arianna. One of them then carved up my half duck, flash fried the remaining carcass, seasoned it with a spice mixtures and packed up the lot with a tub of plum sauce, two packages of pancakes and a small bag of scallions. All this for 16 yuan (about $2.50). Now I’ve had “real” Beijing kao ya and while this duck can in no way compare, it was still a tasty treat for under $3.

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