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Urban Solos

Last week, our instructors encouraged us to disperse to different corners of the city and simply observe. Stop trying to learn, to speak, to be immersed, to understand, but just observe. We’d like to share that little tidbit about Kunming life with you:

Ian: I spent several hours people-watching and relaxing in Cui Hu Gongyuan (Green Lake Park). My experience was highlighted by friendly conversations with passers-by, beautiful scenery, and a slightly chaotic atmosphere provided by many different enthusiastic musical performances happening simultaneously.

Tessa: When the bus dropped me off, I had not a clue as to where I was then meant to go, so I instead explored the nearby shops and restaurants. I spent my time watching buses pass by and buying essential items I had been needing (like a scarf and a daypack). A man seemed concerned with where I was sitting as I observed my surroundings, so I was ushered into his restaurant, which offered interesting meals like milk bricks and fairy grass.

Julia: I spent some time in a secluded park area at the Kunming Zoo, observing both the animals and the zoo guests. Unlike zoos in America, the Kunming Zoo offered a bustling market area, a carnival exhibition (that reminded me, oddly, of Cirque du Soleil), and a thriving community of retired musicians of varying styles (usually all playing at once, to fascinating effect).

Sandra: I was sent to a park along a river in Kunming for my urban solo. In order to get to the park, you have to go down a level through an alley. Above the alley is a large, bustling street and bridge. Once you descend, however, all of the noise disappears and the park atmosphere surrounds. you. The park was full of retirees and toddlers in the early afternoon. Some old women and men were performing a classical Chinese opera in full costume and makeup in one area of the park. They had a band of classical Chinese instruments for their music, and a small crowd of people gathered to watch. I got some delicious kettle corn from a woman on a bridge in the park and basked in the calm atmosphere for a couple of hours.

Ron: For my solo urban experience, I sat on the sidewalk of a bustling Kunming intersection and people-watched. Here is a list of the notable people/things I saw:
* Hipster dude, around 30 years old, who has no hair except a ponytail, wearing a leather jacket, eating fro-yo
* Three stores claiming to be the Apple Store directly next door to each other (all of them are clearly not Apple Stores)
* A couple walking together, the woman is affectionately holding the man’s ear
* A man, around 40 years old, dressed in a full professional business suit, squatting in squat-toilet-poop-position, sitting in the bushes, drinking a cup of tea
* A couple walking together, holding hands, laughing, both talking on their phones, separately, to different people
* A man sitting on a stool in front of the aforementioned “Apple Stores” with a cardboard sign which reads “iPhone Rephair”
* A toddler having an intense conversation with an empty phone case
* A man walking with one cigarette in each hand, alternating puffs
* A woman wearing stiletto heels, sweatpants, and a t-shirt which says “I look good!”
* A baby testing how far she can get her first into her mouth
* A fourth “Apple Store”
* Three more “Apple Stores”
* A pharmacist skipping and dancing through the aisles of a drug store
* A young man wearing a shirt that says “Bite me, I’m single!”
* A little girl dressed as Tinkerbell walking hand-in-hand with her dad, dressed as Peter Pan
* A butcher shop playing “Love Me Do” by The Beatles