My time spent in Kunming thus far has, in many ways, been a series of “Well, now we know” moments. For instance, a few nights ago, a group of us went to a local restaurant for dinner. None of us was entirely sure what was on the menu – the selection was small, and entirely in Chinese. We’d recognized that all of the dishes were noodle dishes, but other than that, didn’t have much of an idea of what we were ordering. We gave it a shot anyway, and soon discovered that the restaurant was an extremely spicy noodle place. I wasn’t able to taste anything after a few bites – the peppers and spices had temporarily removed all function in my taste buds. When the group was finished and we were all ready to leave, we agreed that the outing was simply a “Well, now we know” moment. Now we know what we’re in for if we ever return to that restaurant.
Another of these incidents occurred the other day, when my roommate and I decided to make a trip to Carrefour, a French chain store similar to Walmart. Carrefour is relatively close to Yunnan University, but a little too far to walk, so we headed to the closest bus station. We’d made the trip once before, but we were both a little unsure of which direction we needed to go. We took a guess, and, unfortunately, guessed incorrectly this time. After about fifteen minutes on the bus, we realized what we’d done and got off at the next stop. What was even more unfortunate was that none of the buses stopping at Carrefour stopped where we’d gotten off. Thus, we walked back to the stop near our school and finally got on the right bus. Well, now we know which is the right direction to head when we want to get to Carrefour.
Despite the mishaps, I see these incidents more as mini-adventures, ways of exploring Kunming and what it has to offer. Trying new foods and heading in unfamiliar directions won’t always go smoothly, but I don’t think that necessarily means those adventures were unsuccessful. Recalling how I felt prior to leaving for China, I don’t want to limit myself in terms of trying new foods and expanding my familiarity with the city. Maintaining a vegetarian diet can sometimes make me feel limited, but I also feel motivated to be as open as I can with trying new things. Luckily for me, Yunnan Province is the most diverse in all of China, with 51 out of 56 official ethnic peoples living here. With all of this diversity, there’s always something new to try.