30 PICTURE ALBUM
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
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
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
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
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.