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Kunming to Dali

My dad was crazy enough to come backpacking with Diesel and me. My mom, less adventurous, but probably much smarter in this case, will be meeting up with us in Beijing.

We spent yesterday meandering around the streets of Kunming, which much to my surprise, was quite modern and big (1 million people). Our plan was to go to Dali today, so we took a cab to the bus station. Using my dad as a translator, we asked a police officer where we could catch the bus to Dali,and were lead by him to what turned out to be a PIRATE bus, i.e., a bus that does not have government permission to be running long distance trips such as our 6-hour bus ride to Dali. But alas, this is China, so everything goes.

The bus was almost full, so we sat separately. We paid for the tickets on the bus, and my dad, who has unleashed the dormant Chinaman in him since being here, like the locals, got up and started contesting the bus driver on the price of the tickets, which were quoted as 1 yuan less (or about 15 cents) before we got on the bus. They showed him a ticket stub bought by a local traveler as proof that we were not being charged a different price, so my dad sat down and tried to get over the fact that he had to pay an extra 45 cents.

In the meantime, another argument broke out on the bus between the driver and a few passengers who apparently had bought their tickets from a hotel, and whose tickets were not going to be honored by the bus company. Three men started yelling at the driver, and the driver yelled back and threatened to throw them out of the bus. Amidst the whole chaos, my dad, still convinced that we had got jibbed turns to one of the passengers who is in the middle of this brawl and asks: “so how much did YOU pay for this bus?” The kid, who is still arguing with the driver manages to turn to my dad and tell him that indeed, my dad paid a fair price. This makes him happy, and he has a good chat with the kid who is sitting next to him.

Diesel, on the other hand, has had horrific luck with his travel companions. In Vietnam, for ex, he sat next to what appeared to be a sweet old man. The sweet grandpa turned out to be a real pig, picking his nose and ears with the same long nails, spitting on the floor and then leafing through Diesel’s magazine with the same filthy fingers he had just stuck in his even filthier orifices. This time, Diesel got unlucky again by sitting next to a family with a kid. In the middle of the ride, the mom snatches one of the three trash buckets that are in the bus aisle, holds her kid in a crouching position right above the bucket and waits until her daughter finishes peeing. All this happens while we are moving and some passengers are staring, but the family shows no qualms at all. We spend the next 2.5 hrs on a bus that smells like concentrated pee!

After six hours of travel, we are finally in Dali. We decided to pay the extra 6 bucks next time to get on a better bus with REAL a/c.


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