March 28 & 29. The schedule for the next 3 days consisted of nothing but climbing the sides of enormous mountains until our fingers were blistered and our feet were raw from our cramped shoes. We met Adam and Dane on the morning of the 28th outside Sunny Lodge. Adam pulled up in his small Nissan and the idea that he would fit 5 people and our luggage into the car. None of us were looking forward to the 4 hour drive to Kunming. As we shoved our bodies, bags, and sulky attitudes into the car, we noticed a slight dip in the level of the car. When I turned to look out the window I noticed the back right tire was completely flat. That was the first sign that this would be a good day.
We spent nearly an hour trying to change the tire, but it turned out to be the most inconvenient tire in existence, because we couldn’t pull it off the car after we had unscrewed it. In the end, Adam took it to a shop, leaving us on the curb for the next hour and a half. Some of the things a bunch of guys talk about while sitting on a curb are absurd and hilarious. I’m not saying it was profane, but it was entertaining.
We ended up walking to the shop anyway and, with a new tire, drove for the next few hours to Kunming, a journey that surpassed my uncomfortable expectations. I tried to doze off during the day, but was constantly awoken by a jerk of the car as Adam weaved through traffic, which how most Chinese citizens drive. 4 hours later we arrived in Kunming, but our day of misfortune was not yet over. As Adam pulled into a parking spot he slammed right into a car approaching from his rear. The other driver stormed out of his car, livid, and started shouting at Adam. Adam shouted back in a similar manner and they both began to compare the damage of their cars, which turned out to be nonexistent. Both cars were unscratched, but that did not deter the other driver from yelling at Adam and forcing him to stay put while he called the police. Not wanting to get involved, Erik, David, and I went into the restaurant where we planned to meet Leung.
An hour later, Adam arrived in the restaurant explaining that all the other driver wanted was money from a foreigner. The police saw how ludicrous the situation was at once, and sped on their way, but not before the other driver became desperate enough to yank off part of his own front bumper in an attempt to display any sign of damage to the car. Yet another fine example of local Chinese citizens trying to take advantage of tourists.
The next day proved to be a slightly better day, but not by much. We planned to rock climb one last time before David and Erik left for Tanzania (they are leaving earlier than expected and I will be left with Leung until the 31st). We traveled to a ravine with great climbing routes, and I tried my hand at climbing a 5-10A, which supposedly was long thought to the extent of the human limit of rock climbing before someone proved that humans could climb more challenging routes. I didn’t break once. However, my hands were utterly useless afterwards and I didn’t dare climb again because I still had one more day to enjoy.
We ate dinner in Kunming again, but this time we ate locally, for it was David and Erik’s last Chinese meal before Tanzania. We ate greasy potato pancakes, smelly tofu (which is its real name), and soggy vegetables with rice. Afterwards, Erik had time to hang out in our hotel before setting out to the airport. During this time we reminisced about our last 2 months together. We had not done this in a long time and it brought back wondrous memories, as well as a lump as sadness. I said goodbye to David and Erik after an hour of chatting, but I was too exhausted to feel that this was really goodbye. I had become close to Erik, but I doubt I will miss him too much in my next month. We didn’t have too much in common, although he was a great friend and an impeccable story teller. David, I will see again, because he lives an hour away from my home town. Quite convenient, don’t you think? So, without the heavy weight of loss in my heart, which had haunted me almost exactly 1 month ago, I fell into a peaceful sleep that night.
Thanks so much to everybody who has been posting comments on my blog. I have heard from a few followers that it is difficult to post comments due to Blogger’s settings and I apologize for this inconvenience. I hope you are still enjoying keeping up to date with my travels as much as I enjoy experiencing them. I also posted new pictures to my Picasa album. Hope you enjoy them as well!