I’m in Kunming, Yunnan province, in the southwest of China just above Viet Nam. And the place is chock full of surprises.

I fired up the GPS, just for fun, and got a reading. As it happened, Luigi had just texted me. so I texted back the coordinates. Less than 30 seconds later he texted back the hotel I was staying in, with some tips about what else looked interesting in the area. This before I had even connected to the internets. Technology sometimes is truly jaw-dropping.

The joint is jumping. This is my first visit, so all I know is what I’ve read, and there is simply nothing that can prepare you for the pace of change. You would simply never know, in ordinary life, that this is a very highly regulated, one-party state. This the considered opinion of, oh, about 18 hours experience.

Except that, there’s no getting through to the New York Times web site. Other sites that I read regularly seem to be blocked too, but no discernible pattern. Could be just a flaky hotel connection.

Which was easy, and free.

Chinese food: steak and eggs, cooked (or rather, finished) on one of those sizzling iron platters at a place called Happy Steak that featured laminated menus and photographs of the uncooked meats. You paid for the main course. Everything else -- from soup to nuts, and beyond -- was included. It was odd, and not what I expected, but good.

Green tea is very, very good. But how do you drink it without getting a mouthful of leaves? Slow sipping seems to be one answer, but even that doesn’t always work.

Alas, there’s work to be done here; if there weren’t I wouldn’t be here.

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