After three weeks of pondering and waiting it's finally time to leave. I walk to the bus stop with C. to buy the ticket because the lady behind the counter cannot read Latin letters. Not even my translation app helps.
I follow C. through the hot streets of Jinghong, smiling. We got out of bed early today, to experience the market in full swing. Although it's just 7 o'clock, the sweat is dripping from my forehead and my spine.
I'm sitting in the dark in one of my host's dorms. From the street, I hear the karaoke bar around the corner and the subtle noise of the night market. For every traveller, these sounds are a lure. For me, the bait has lost its pull.
The Stone Forest tears a big hole in my budget. First, I decide not to visit it at all. But meeting N. makes a trip out of the city seem possible. I decide against my initial gut feeling and am ultimately convinced by the beautiful photos. It's one of the excursions that I bitterly regret.
Kunming is a big city. Not in the eyes of the Chinese, of course. It has only 6.7 million inhabitants, after all. This is common in China. Once more I marvel at the relativity of all things, size in particular.
From the center of Lhasa, I fight my way to the station. The train station square is vast. To get to the entrance I have to walk in serpentine lines across the square, through two security checkpoints and into a separate building to get my ticket.