One of the weirdest things about China is that every morning I wake up and realize this is not a like Dallas in the 80’s when JR got shot. The forty-nineth season of my life has not been ”just a dream”.
Actually, the weirdest and most charming thing about China is that everything’s either super old or brand spanking new.
For instance, where else in the world could you get both a cappuccino and yakuccino? You can get a Starbucks mocha decaf tall or Tibetan tea made with yak butter… that’s short on taste.
Where else in the world can you get the clasp of a Coach bag fixed on the street for about a quarter?
Or witness a Lexus having a fender bender with a donkey cart ?
One of the most obvious intersections of the old and new China has to be at one the country’s zillion construction sites. It’s as if the country has been invaded by a gigantic erector set, putting up high rises where fish ponds use to be. You’ll see an ultra modern building go up at record speed, the hard working construction crew carrying out debris in baskets strapped to their backs.
Shopping is also a fusion of old and new. You can see an old woman making embroidered her own Manolo Blahniks in front of a store that sells real Manolo Blahniks.
Yes, China is a thousand year old country that’s acting its shoe size.
And If this is just a weird dream of Pam Ewing, I’m not ready for her to wake up yet.
Being from the Midwest, l love fall. It’s the time of year when the world becomes a box of crayola crayons dumped out onto the horizon.
That was before I moved ot China.
Fall in China does have its colors: red, red and uh, more red.
Though the trees aren’t as colorful, the boys don’t seem to mind. The trees are still good to climb.
Since Kunming’s climate is semi tropical, the leaves don’t put on a fall fashion show. However, the senior fashionistas do. Actually, Kunming is a lot like Fort Lauderdale. Just replace the Jewish delis and expensive facelifts with stinky tofu and priceless faces.
But small candied apples on a stick is a local street treat.
They are guaranteed to pull out any dental work.
Since I miss fall colors, I had to be resourceful.
I create my own.
Jeff likes to wrap himself in it.
There are some things in China I I’ll never have a use for.
For starters, this emergency glue cushion. I can’t think of one predicament that I could ever be in that I’d need this.
Even when I put my Chenglish thinking cap on, I’m lost for what got lost in translation.
Another thing I ruled out was sidewalk acupuncture.
Then there’s always Roasted chicken feet, otherwise known as diarrhea on a stick.
Or if you like treats on a stick, how about a fishsicle?
And for those of you into bovine bones, there is always the steer skull.
It rates right up there with a velvet painting of Elvis. However, Jeff wants to buy it.
China is great. You can do almost anything in this country from farting in public, poohing in the petunias, wearing pajamas to wal-mart to spitting in stilettos without getting a second look.
Granted, all of these actions are recorded on a surveillance camera.
But there is one thing you cannot do in China.
Exit a bus from the front door.
Make a dash from the front instead of the aft, you’ll be an inch away from being deported.
And being a westerner makes it twice as bad.
You’ll get yelled at by not only the Chinese version of Ralph Kramden but also by the ancient passenger with a six inch long hair growing out of the oversized mole on his cheek.
He’s lucky because he got a seat.
But getting on a bus in China, anything goes. It brings out my inner Brian Urlacher, as I elbow little kids, littler kids, men, women, teens, grandparents, and passengers carrying live chickens to get board.
Come to think of it, shoulder pads would come in handy.
There are no penalties for stepping on toes or shoving as I make it to the end zone for a coveted empty seat.
Some passengers throw their belongings through open windows to reserve a spot, thinking this action will buy them time as they dilly-dally getting on board.
Yeah right. That rates right up there with cutting in line at Disneyworld to get on Space Mountain.
I hike their items to an out of bounds area, such as the green seats saved for the elderly.
They yell obscenities in Chinese as I complete my secret ”Ting Bu Dong” play.
Victory for the Westerner.
Another loss for Kung Fu Panda.
But as we exit, he air hankies in my direction.
And no one gives it a second look.