Well it appears as if the Chinese censors have UNBLOCKED livejournal for the time being. This is cool, since now I don't have to email posts to my girlfriend or go through unreliable and slow proxy servers.

I am now in Kunming, which is the capital of China's southern Yunnan province. I flew in yesterday from Busan, with a brief stopover in Shanghai. After boarding the plane in Shangers, the sky opened up with solid sheets of rain, beating the roof and wings of the plane. It was a properly huge thunder/rainstorm, and we were stuck on the tarmac for almost three hours as we waited it out. I passed the time by busily reading Christopher Hitchen's anti-religion screed "god is not GREAT" and knocking out a crossword.

I arrived last night and taxi'd it to the hostel where I agreed to meet the boys. They were there, but the joint was booked up, so we hauled our asses across town where we got a room (four beds!) at another place. We broke open the giant bottle of duty free Chivas Regal I brought and then hit a popular local watering hole, where we downed coldish bottles of Carlsburg lager (omnipresent here) and commiserated on our new adventure. We returned to the hotel around one thirty, drank more whisky, and debated religion (iniated by the book I read earlier...).

Kunming is a cool city. It's pleasant, with tree-lined streets and nice new buildings. The people are generally friendly and laid-back, which is nice to see. China is hit and miss with the locals. Sometimes they're nice and sometimes they're nasty. This is one of the "nice" places, or so it seems. Yunnan is China's gateway to Southeast Asia, and you can already get a sense of that from the food and the easy-going nature of the people.

We woke up this morning and took a bus to Xi Shan, a mountain shooting up from the side of Dian Chi, a huge lake which borders the city. We hiked to the top of the mounain and took in the scenery. We ate some noodles with a blistering chili-sauce that is sure to burn the o-ring tomorrow morning.

Tonight we'll chow down on some proper Yunnan cuisine and end the night on a rooftop bar, drinking (hopefully) cold beer. Truly cold beer can sometimes be hard to get in China, as they often pass off lukewarm bottles on desperate tourists.

The weather is warm, but significantly cooler than Korea was. I think this is mainly a result of elevation. We're a bit up, here. There was a fifteen minute thunderstorm today, but other than that, no serious rain.

Tomorrow we're heading south to the Xishuangbanna Region, home of the Dai people, who are evidently ethnic Thais who settled there a long time ago. I sure we'll eat Dai food tomorrow and endure the inevitable "cutlural dance show," repleat with traditionally-costumed, singing children. It's a ten-hour bus ride, but Angry Steve has enough valium to make it an easy ride.