The hotel in Kunming was nicer than expected. Seemed like every hard surface was made of marble. Kunming is known as the city of eternal spring because it doesn't get too hot or cold there. They take great pride in their year round blooming flowers.
The Chinese New Year decorations are out in full force. All the red items in the picture above are for the coming celebration. If you notice the tree to the right it has red packets (envelopes) hanging from the branches. It's their version of a Christmas tree with gifts underneath of it. The red envelopes are generally money they give to each other as a gift. I was told well ahead of time that I will be expected to give one to my ayi (housekeeper). I'll be curious to see how their traditions play out as we get closer. I believe the actual date this year is January 21 or 22.
A few items worth noting from my first flight last night.
Absolutely no diversity anywhere to be seen. I didn't see another caucasian person at any point last night in the airport, on the flight, or anywhere at all. I did notice an African couple while walking to the other terminal last night, but that was it. I expect that to change getting on an international flight today.
The flight last night was similar to an economy flight in the states from twenty years ago. There was no access to charge a device of any kind. Just a seat, tray table, and a light snack and water. I'm expecting a similar plane today as it's the same airline (China Eastern).
I received an email last night that bummed me out a bit. My home golf course is running one of my favorite tournaments soon. It's called a one person scramble. I've done well in this specific tournament in the past. I'm missing golfing with my buddies quite a bit. The adventure coming in the next few days should help ease that pain. No idea who I'll be playing with in Singapore, but it shouldn't matter. I like playing with strangers and have had close to one hundred percent positive experiences in the past.
Getting out of China is looking to be more of a challenge than I thought. I've been through two stations so far and I'm currently in line at a third. This one is titled "China immigration inspection". I keep waiting for the ignorant traveler in a foreign land moment, but it's yet to happen. I've had some close moments. Today it was filling out an electronic health declaration form on WeChat, but of course there was someone close by to point me in the right direction. He showed me which QR code to scan so mine would come up in English.
I've officially had the same weird experience in a Chinese airport twice now. The feeling of complete isolation in a giant space that's designed for masses of people. This time I took a picture.
I walked past the first five gates and didn't see a single soul. There are only two flights out of Kunming that have international destinations today. One to Singapore and another to Bangkok. When I got to my gate there were two people sitting in the waiting area. I'm early, but not that early. The plane is supposed to start boarding in less than an hour. You might be thinking, how big is Kunming? About four times the population of Seattle.
I'm getting a solid grasp now on why businesses want to be in bed with China. A billion plus consumers that want western stuff. The Starbucks wasn't open here in this wing of the airport, but there was a typical gift and snack store. I kid you not, at least ten varieties of Lays potato chips. All different flavors. I've seen similar displays everywhere I've been in China. Lays has got to be absolutely killing it here. A few other prominent businesses that I've noticed are Coke, Pepsi, Apple, and KFC. There's way more KFC than any other fast food here and it's not close.
I took Shane's a advice this past week and opted to download a seventies Oscar winner for my plane ride today. I went with The Sting. Also watched one of my favorites that I know Moira would appreciate, Scott Pilgram vs The World. As I stand here in line inside the airport in Singapore I'm finally seeing the possibilities of what world diversity looks like. Lots of folks from all over Asia, Africa, Australia, and other parts of the world. Quite the mix.
Made it to my hotel. Time to put on some shorts and go find a dinner somewhere close. I need to eat and crash. I'm feeling super tired and I've got a 7:08 tee time tomorrow morning.