my last few weeks in bangkok have been a whirlwind, so I find myself confusedly and quite suddenly back in China.
I’m both appalled and amazed to be conversing in putonghua again. amazed that despite disuse there is still a certain facility, and that these words spilling out of my mouth actually sound right, and yes, I am being understood. appalled that the current state of my vocabulary is pitiful.
I guess I’ve been surprised by strangers striking up conversation; and that, as opposed to how I feel about normal “chit-chat”, I actually found it interesting (though perhaps not in the way intended). with a cautiously polite volvo-dealer and his deliciously subtle beijing accent (normally a contradiction, I know), talking about swimming ‘wa-wa’ style on a darkened bus. with a young man and his slurred GuiZhou speech–that I unfortunately had serious problems understanding–telling me what I ought to know about LiJiang.
which is where I am now, in Yunnan province. this little city is utterly, ridiculously charming.
I mean, seriously, look at my hostel:
of course, it does get a little too much: the naxi people all in perfectly constructed traditional houses, wearing perfectly endearing clothing. the reason, I suppose, the cobblestoned old part of town in its entirety is a UNESCO heritage site (though somehow my stint at the UN has left me attaching less significance to this distinction than before).
nonetheless, I have been bewitched enough to take my time in Lijiang and not rush off to tiger leaping gorge immediately. adventure awaits.