So here are all the details I didn't have time for this morning, plus a description of Kunming exploration day. Definitely read the post below this first though, it gives an introduction to what we're up to in China.
Becca's birthday was a few days ago, so her mother sent us all Obama shirts for her present. Since we haven't had laundry done since Machu Picchu, we all wore the Obama shirts three days in a row, until we got some clean clothes back. The Chinese loved it! Everyone asked about it, and I'm pretty sure all of China supports Obama. Thursday night we went to 'English Corner', which is when all the people in Kunming who want to practice English gather at a park and talk to each other and whatever foreigners are there. We were told not to discuss politics or anything controversial in school, but at English Corner everyone asked about all the taboo subjects. I ended up discussing gay marriage, Obama, democracy, the constitution, abortion, and more. Of course, there was also a lot of talk about food and friends and things Americans do for fun. I was very suprised by the wide range of opinions I heard on a very wide range of topics. Everyone here asks for your email, so I've already gotten loads of emails from people I've met at schools and at English Corner.
More details- Chinese bathrooms. Wow. What little modesty wasn't beaten out of me in Bua is definitely gone. Most of the public bathrooms are essentially a line of holes in the ground with waist high walls in between and no doors. I always try to get the stall farthest from the door, so I have to walk past all the Chinese women doing their thing to get there. It is a very strange experience when people are walking past while you go to the bathroom. I am not a huge fan. They also don't give you toilet paper, so everywhere I go I steal tissues and napkins. None of the sinks work, so I always have purel. At least in my house here I have a hot shower! No more rio for me.
Kunming exploration today wasn't actually alone, it was in groups of three. Alexis, John, and I were a group, and were given a temple to find. Actually we were handed a sheet of paper with three Chinese characters and told to go. We found an English major on the university campus within thirty seconds, and he walked us all the way to the temple. His name was Hawk.
We didn't actually go in the temple, because of the volume of beggars outside. We knew there was no way we could get through without giving them money, and we didn't have much on us. Instead we went to the zoo and aquarium just down the road. It was a pretty cool zoo, except some of the animals were in tiny, awful cages. There was one cage of absolutely emaciated lions we saw hidden behind some fences, clearly not open to the public. I held hands with an elephant! It was sticking its trunk through the bars of the fence, and if I stood on the wall and reached my hand over the moat we could touch. The elephant would stretch as far as it could, and caress my hand. It was a very strange feeling. John has a pretty cool picture of it, when he puts it up I'll post it.
The aquarium was not well taken care of. One tank just had a large, dead horseshoe crab in it. Another tiny tank had two large sea turtles, floating with their heads against the wall. A small bathtub sized pool of water was filled with coins as well as a sea turtle. It was very depressing.
Afterwards we walked around a bit, and found our way to foreigners street, where we got excellent hamburgers and ice cream. Overall we had an excellent day! Though very wet- it literally poured the whole time.I'm still soaking. Actually, Charles told us that it has never rained this much at this time of year, which is the same thing they told us in Bua. Pretty scary- global warming much?
Anyway, that's all for now. Tomorrow I think I'm going ice skating (if we can find the rink) and learning to make dumplings. I'll have much more regular internet now that I've figured out Kunming, so write to me! I miss you all!