Report 1 - August 27, 1999|
According to its inhabitants, Kunming is going through a radical modernization that started a couple of years ago and is wiping away the few remaining old buildings. New skyscrapers are built every couple of months and, well, they aren't that ugly after all. Part of this development is probably due to the '99 international gardening expo which is taking place just outside Kunming and works like a show-room for China's economical strength. In the last few years westernization definitely speeded up, so that even in a place so far away from Beijing or Shanghai you can find almost everything. Anyway, it's all very colorful and brand new, but some places still retain that fascinating old China atmosphere, like the Hua niao shichang (Flowers and birds market), where you can find anything from fishing gear to wooden elephants, swords, rabbits and dogs, all surrounded by low traditional buildings painted in red, with grass growing on their roof.
The people in Kunming are friendly and willing to chat. Judging from the (surprisingly few!) number of spits and hallo's you can hear every day, they look much more polite than Nanjing people were. At first sight there's much poverty around here, and seems like some American Christian community (or sect?) is kind of taking advantage of this situation to attract followers.
In August a small exhibition took place at the Upriver Club (Shanghe huiguan) in Kunming: "Paintings of Akira Kurosawa - Another side of the great master", the director's sketches from masterpieces as Ran (War) and Dreams.