Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yesterday's Yunnan, Today's thoughts

I've not been able to blog much the past week, thanks to my assignment and upcoming exams. Baby J has more or less recovered except for a slight cough, but hubby has now been hit with a bad cold, so I've been pretty tied up this weekend, and the past week has been spent rushing to finish my assignment as well as my presentation, both which were due yesterday. But with both of them asleep, I'm taking some time off from studying to just have a break and blog, especially since quite a few people have been asking about my trip. I must say a big thank you to those who have been praying for us during the trip, we really appreciated your prayers and thoughts! :)

As all of these kind of trips go, I went there wanting to bless others, and came back doubly blessed by the people there. We left early Thursday morning at 0800 hrs and had a 4 hour flight to Kunming airport. After resting awhile and having lunch there, we took a short domestic flight to Lin Cang. We all then squashed ourselves in a Pajero and an ambulance, and had a 4 hour journey to Cang Yuan (where the hospital was), reaching there only slightly before 2200 hrs. (We contemplated messaging our parents to tell them that "We are now on the way to hospital in an ambulance", but we thought they probably would have panicked and wouldn't have found it funny, so we didn't in the end...) The journey was filled with lots of gut-wrenching twists and turns, and the drivers were rushing since it was late, so some of the group had motion sickness (and threw up even more after seeing the conditions of the toilets when they stopped for a rest).

For the next 4 days, the team (consisting of an eye, dental & paediatrics team) spent their time at the hospital. The teams were busy, particularly the eye team who did cataract surgeries all the way past dinner time, with little breaks except to eat their packet lunches and dinners at the hospital.  I was supposed to try to lend a hand with regards to admin, for example, filling forms during the registration of patients. But the hotel was some distance away from the hospital, and baby J needed his naps and it was difficult to shuttle up and down, so baby and I ended up wandering in the streets near the hotel and getting to know the locals.

The pace of life over there is much slower, and the people there seem reasonably content with their life. You do not see the endless, frantic striving to earn money to get a better life, and they are very hospitable people. For most of the shops I wandered into, the shopkeeper would actually pull up a seat to invite me to stay to chat, and would not be upset if I left without buying something (which is so different from the shops in Singapore!). I happened to wander into a stationery shop in search of shoe glue (as hubby's shoe came apart), and ended up chit-chatting with the lady shopkeeper for more than an hour! She even persuaded me to stay for lunch, and cooked up a simple lunch with veggies harvested fresh from her little vegetable plot at the back of the shop, and insisted on giving me a bottle of her homemade chilli to bring back!  Other shopkeepers would also take time to chat with you, and it was a pleasure being able to just get a glimpse of how the locals lived their lives.  Baby J and I stopped by a clothing shop run by an old lady and bought some cloth from her, and upon our return journey back to the hotel, the lady actually crossed the street to give baby J a little trinket as a keep-sake!

On the last night in Cang Yuan, we visited a Wa village and had dinner there.  Yunnan has many ethnic minorities, and Cang Yuan has a high percentage of people from the Wa minority.  The Wa people are headhunters, and their emblem seems to be the buffalo head, which is seen sewn on clothing and replicated in the architecture of their houses, which have roofs with "pointed ends" resembling the buffalo horns.  You also see literal buffalo heads hanging in the front of some of the houses!

We had time before dinner, so we spent some time wandering around the village:

As it was autumn, the corn harvest was in, so we caught glimpses of corn drying out in the sun in many of the houses...

And pumpkins everywhere, even growing on the roofs of some of the houses!

We couldn't resist putting Baby J in the picture with a pile of pumpkins, but I think he wasn't too happy about it!

Finally, we had a feast of local Wa cuisine at the village, which was very yummy (one Wa speciality is their porridge, which is really really good), followed by toasts, which involved one of the Wa village ladies singing a song to each of us, followed by the clinking of cups and drinking.

More about the rest of the trip another time, I'd better get down to reading more journals now... Have a great week ahead everyone! :)

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