So China is pretty fab. I'm so happy that I can find my way around Kunming now... at least my part of it. I also came up with some great ideas for how to get find places. For instance, my acupuncture adventure. I wanted to get acupuncture, so Charles recommended I go to the hospital because it is the most clean. He wrote down the number for the foreign affairs department for me. I called it from a phone on the side of the road, and a Chinese woman told me in English to meet her on the sixth floor of the outpatient building at three (in fifteen minutes). I grabbed a Chinese guy off the street, handed him my notebook and the phone, and had him write down the address from her. I then showed what he wrote down to a taxi driver, and sure enough ended up at the hospital. I wandered around it for about fifteen minutes while I tried to find the right bit, which was actually pretty cool because I got to see a lot of interesting stuff. It's an experimental hospital, combining traditional Chinese medicine with Western. For instance, I wandered into the gynecology wing by mistake, and in an open room I saw all the traditional equipment, but also a woman getting stomach acupuncture. In every wing, from surgery to oncology, they have at least one traditional massage therapy room. While I was waiting outside the outpatient acupuncture room I watched a guy sitting in traction- he sat in a chair, with his neck in a sling pulled tight to the ceiling. He had to sit so straight in order to not get hanged!
When I finally got to the doctor, she sat me in a chair in a room filled with patients in beds and a million of her disciples. She took my pulse in a bunch of places, looked at my tongue, and asked me a load of questions. She sent me out to pay the 30 yuan (a little more than $4) for my treatment, and return with my receipt. When I did, she put me on a bed and did all the pulse stuff again, then palpated my stomach. She seemed dead certain it would hurt. She hit one spot and it totally did! She looked so satisfied when I flinched. Then she and her disciples gathered around my head and told me to go 'ahhhh'. It was a bit strange seeing about 18 Chinese doctors staring at my tongue. Eventually they decided to put needles in my hands and just below my knees, and put a heat lamp magnet thing over my stomach. They attached smoking balls of paper to the needles in my knees. The needles didn't hurt at all, I was very impressed. The areas where they put them got all warm, and twitched like when you are going to sleep. I lay there for about half and hour, then was set free into the wilderness of downtown Kunming.
We're reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed right now, and it's amazing. We have the best seminars about the nature of development and education and so much more. It's crazy hard to read, but so worth it. Chinese class is going great; I still can't pronounce anything, but I have learned so much. Charles is a great teacher. I think his goal is to send us home fluent in Chinese. The other classes are working from the textbook and not learning nearly as much. Charles is writing his own textbook! Our teaching is really fun. The kids are always so engaged when they talk to us, so there's a lot of energy in the room. We teach really basic stuff, but it's pretty hard to do.
It was so exciting on election day! Well, the day after election day for us. We watched live in our classroom as McCain conceded and Obama accepted, and it was crazy. We all wore our Obama shirts for days before and after. It was really fun at English corner this week, discussing it with people.
I asked some of the people at English corner about the importance of learning English and why they do it, and I got some pretty interesting answers. One girl told me she is Muslim, and speaking English she can talk to Muslims in other parts of the world. One boy said he can read Western news sources and find out things the Chinese government tries to keep secret.
This weekend, Alexis, John, and I went to the stone forest. We had a lot of trouble booking it, because Chinese hotels don't make you say how long you will stay and therefore never know if they have room or not. At first we were going to go to Tibet, but there has been so much rain that there have been a lot of mudslides and it would have been too difficult. We took a two hour car ride there, then found our hotel and chilled. We had a really relaxing weekend; lots and lots of sleeping, eating, chilling. We went to the stone forest Saturday after sleeping in really late. It was a beautiful day, perfect spring weather and completely sunny. The stone forest is amazing! The stones are incredible shapes, and so cool (temperature wise, but also cool in the other sense). We walked between them for hours- most of the time we were completely alone. In between them it is radically cooler than outside, and dark and so silent and still. It was really worth doing, and so relaxing- I guess the stones are very calming in some way. There were tons of caves and lakes. Alexis wanted to stay there, we think that caves may be her natural habitat. She is white enough! She borrowed my umbrella when we weren't shaded by the stones so she wouldn't have to be exposed to the sun.
To balance out all the awesome things about China, here are some not so good bits. I don't like how everyone spits loudly all the time. You can be walking alone at night and hear someone make a disgusting spitting noise the next street over. They are so loud! I also dislike how everyone here smokes all the time. In the house, in school, at dinner, while walking in the stone forest... it's absurd. I don't like how everyone has mopeds with hugely loud alarms which constantly go off, and how if there is traffic they will drive them down the sidewalk no matter how crowded it is, honking at people to get out of the way.
But essentially, China rocks.
Here are some more pictures, finally!
I'll add Machu Picchu soon.