EP and Travel in Western Yunnan
EP, Chess and Travel in the Mountains of Southwest China
So getting around Yunnan is… a trip. For the most part, I’ve been hiking a fair amount in the area, but to get to trailheads takes a bit of creativity. Pointing to Chinese characters on a map and smiling at the taxi driver works pretty well, but then so does trying to pronounce the characters because it inevitably gets you a smile. It goes a little something like this.
A bus, a taxi, a motorcycle with huge cart in the back, or a car packed with monks and their family pulls up and the driver looks out and smiles.
“To Dechin, I’d like to go to Dechin,” I say.
To which the driver returns a dumbfounded look.
“Dechin,” I poke at my map. “De-chin. Here.” I poke harder. “Dechin”
The driver looks at me, then the map, then at me, and breaks into hysterical laughter while he looks to the passenger and says, “Du-chin. Du-chin,” followed by a string of words either in Mandarin or Tibetan (I still can’t tell the difference). Then he gestures me into the back of the car and we’re on our way.
In that way, it’s a bit like the states. You can mispronounce a syllable by what seems like a fraction and the whole word is rendered useless. All and all, it’s good fun. Listen to an update from the bus.
Once I arrived to Du-chin I met these men in the midst of a market. So I didn’t actually play the game of Chinese Chess and have to confess that I don’t much understand it. (The whole lack of Chinese thing) But it sure is cool to watch. There were two of them that were caught in an intense string of games and the handful of men around them lingered just to watch. It seemed to go back and forth with whoever was winning making quick moves toward the end of the game and the loosing player deliberating over which move would cut his losses. There were breaks of thoughtful silence, then one player would say something, his opponent would laugh and the lingering men would chip in some insight. The tapping sounds on the audio is when they slam the pieces on the table. Great fun to watch. Listen to some sounds from the game.