Tuesday, March 30

Steve: SNOW! We woke up bright and early this morning, all set for our 8:20 AM flight to Kunming (connecting to Beijing). Once there was enough daylight to see what was going on, we realized quickly that we weren't going anywhere soon. The snow was coming down so hard we thought that it was January in Boston! A quick call to the small airport here in Zhongdian confirmed that the airport was closed indefinitely…

We considered several different options, including driving back to Lijiang with the hope of flying from there to Beijing. When none of our ideas panned out, we resigned ourselves to spending a day in Zhongdian huddling by the fire in the cozy restaurant (there's no heat here…). Fortunately, we were being treated like kings in the hotel (we were the only ones staying here this week), so this didn't seem too bad. We'd simply try for the same flights tomorrow, and spend one less day in Tokyo.

David and Katie had a blast playing in the snow and making snowmen while the hotel staff all looked on and laughed at their antics. We also took advantage of the time this morning to do some more reading and planning for our upcoming trip to Japan. Andy (the hotel manager, pictured below with Paula) treated us to a huge portion of Chinese dumplings - probably the best we've ever had! Things weren't so bad…

By 11:00 the snow had subsided, and the sun was actually peeking out - a call to the airport confirmed that our flight would now be leaving at 12:30. This was four hours late and meant that we couldn't make the connection to Beijing, but it was certainly better to at least get to Kunming while the weather allowed.

We arrived in Kunming by 1:30, and were pleased to learn that we had been re-booked on a flight to Beijing at 8:50 PM. While that meant a late arrival into Beijing (11:20 PM), at least we wouldn't have to change our Tokyo plans.

We arrived in Beijing after midnight and very tired, but relieved to have made it. That should be the last snow we see for quite a long time!

Tomorrow (after a quick four hours of sleep…) we fly to Tokyo, and should arrive by late afternoon.

Katie's Kwick Kwacks: My Impressions of Tibetan Villages. Over the past couple of days we have spent some time viewing and visiting Tibetan villages. We have found these villages to be very different from all others we have seen in China. The next paragraph describes the ways in which these villages were different, and how we have found the life style of the Tibetan people to be unique.

From the moment we took our first glance at a Tibetan village, we knew these people would be different. The first major difference that we noticed was how large the homes were. They were at least five times the size of most of the other village homes we had seen in China, and a great deal more oriental. The homes were made of cement, as opposed to raw earth, which we have seen in many other villages in China. They also had painted windows and very nice interior wood carvings-there have only been dirt floors in most other villages we have visited.

The traditional Tibetan homes have three floors-the ground for animals, first for sleeping and cooking, and the second for the family shrine. These shrines vary in size, but usually include relics, candles, holy books, and a place for offerings. Buddhism is one of the most important parts of a Tibetan family's life.

Despite the greater wealth in these families, their kitchens are still very traditional, and look similar what you might think to see in Colonial days in the United States. They include big black-rusted pots hanging on hooks over a fire, brick ovens, and even one of those thin wooden bowls for pounding rice and butter in. The only thing that doesn't quite fit are the match-box sized televisions in the corners of the room.

We have also found many of the natural resources of the Tibetan people to be different as a result of the unique terrain. They grow expensive mushrooms and wheat as well as mining and raising live stock. Because of these special natural resources, they are clearly better off than some other ethnic groups.

The Tibetan people also look and dress differently from other people we have seen. They have round, darker faces, and wear thin pink head-dresses and cotton scarves.

All in all, visiting Tibetan villages has been a very interesting experience for us. I believe that I now have a basic understanding of what the ethnic groups in China are all about, and accept the fact that despite my first impressions, Chinese people are not all the same.












Next Day
Prior Day