In and out of Kunming with Lodge and Mr. Wong

We flew into Kunming about a week ago and had a very short meet with Lodge and Mr.Wong. Airport to downtown; 12 hours later, downtown to airport. Supposed to fly back into Kunming for a quick round-trip to Shilin (the Stone Forest), but we’re sitting next to a space heater in the Shangri-la airport coffee shop waiting for the snow storm and heavy overcast to lift.

We may never see Lodge and Mr. Wong again.

Each table in the coffee shop is equipped with a space heater. They are piggy-backed on a series of extension cords and power strips so that each table has a nice oasis of warmth under the table. (The airport itself is apparently not heated. The hostess trots around in a mini-skirt and carries a hot water bottle under her jacket.) It may all blow up, but it sure is nice while it lasts.

We fly out of Kunming again at around 22:00 to go to Xi’an. Poor Lodge. Since we were coming back to town he never got a tip for his careful shepherding of us to and from the airport last week.

* * * * * *

Time passed. A lot of time passed. And we finally made it to Kunming about 5 hours late. Faithful Lodge and Mr. Wong were waiting for us, as they had since 9:00. And it’s pouring in Kunming. After a lot of farting around, we remembered that Lodge had mentioned a place he really liked for “crossing bridge rice noodles” a food specialty of this part of China. So we drove 45 minutes from the airport to have this special meal and then drove back to the airport. What a day.

A bright point was how delighted Mr. Wong was with the modest tip we gave him. Most of the drivers have taken their tips with a kind of sang froid. Mr. Wong broke into a huge smile and offered me namaste.

Several hours later, we find that our Xi’an flight is also delayed. It’s not over yet. I’m sitting at the gate looking at the 20:00 flight to Beijing sitting there with a service truck pulling up to it at 20:50. They need to get out of there so our plane can dock. Maybe that is our plane and we missed the departure of the Beijing flight. . .NOT. (See a Universe of Disappointments below.)

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