Because I am lazy, here is an email I sent my sisters this week:


So livejournal, xanga and blogspot have all been blocked as of two weeks ago, and I could only access them to add new posts, not to view comments. Bummer. I will try to figure out a new way to communicate. I’m sitting in another cafe called Salvador’s near the school, since the only way I can get online in the evening without going to a smokey, not-so-pleasant internet bar is to lug my laptop here for their lovely wi-fi connection. It’s a nice place to get an overpriced bite to eat and finally communicate with the rest of the world. I’m sorry that my cell phone hasn’t been working for the past few days, there was something wrong with the simcard so I bought another one so my new number is:

My new cell# 13577151427

If you can, let Mommy know. I will call her tomorrow tonight, which is Monday morning when I get out of here and buy another international calling card.

This weekend, I bought a ticket very last minute to go to the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan province to accompany my friend Alissa Greenberg from Wesleyan on her research/spring break trip. It was exciting, and adventurous the entire way through. I have never done anything like that before, we sort of flew by the seat of our pants all through the countryside, but don’t worry, we were careful not to do anything dangerous and the area is quite safe. We even got invited to a Dai minority wedding banquet at the foot of a hill in a tiny town called Menghun. The uncle of the groom was very kind to me, and showed me all the tattoos (some of which he did himself at the age of eight) on his arms, legs and back. The food was interesting to say the least, and included raw beef stomach and bai jiu, extremely strong liquor that feels like fire going down your throat. We also met a Vermonter backpacking through Kunming who works for an international environmental NGO. Turns out he grew up in Flushing, on Beech between Bowne and Kissena. It was surreal to say the least.

I got Ma’s letter this Friday, and it nearly made me cry because 1) I’ve never gotten a letter from her before and 2) It was very sweet and made me miss everyone a lot. Still having a great time here though, and will talk to you all soon.

Love 1000x over,


Alissa came up with the term VietNOT. Banna feels so different from Kunming, the palm-lined roads, tropical weather, and Dai lettering on all the street signs alongside the Chinese. We also officially entered the phrase “monks on a motorcycle” into the linguistic canon. There were young Buddhist monks everywhere in Jinghong and the surrounding area. Apparently it’s a bit like serving in the army for boys in Banna, so we saw teenage monks in their saffron robes hanging out on street corners, smoking, and of course, riding the ubiquitous scooter/motorcycle. At an 8 sided pagoda we went near Menghun, a 12 year old monk gave us incense to burn inside the small temple. To me, he looked closer to 8, and I couldn’t help asking him how long he had been at the monastery–2 months. Outside the temple nearby, another young monk was sleeping on a bench under the shade of a tree, yellow robes hung out to dry on its branches.

Being here has been such a challenge to my health…injured foot, continual issues with food, fatigue. I will never take good health for granted again. I never expected to have such a problem with the food here, since we grew up on pretty much this kind of stuff, albeit under more sanitary conditions. In any case, I’ve been careful to eat mostly fresh bananas and other relatively non-offensive items recently, and have been getting better with it. Suffice to say, eating boiled river eel/snake thing and mysterious wild vegetable with those Dai villagers in Banna was probably not the best idea.


4 thoughts on “Yellow

  1. Kaishi says:

    HELLO DIANA SHUM!! Melanie gave me your blog!You’re learning and experiencing so much in China 😀 I MISS YOU!!!! Everyone misses you too and I always ask Linda how you’re doing! Can’t wait to see you again! LOVE xoxoxoxoxo ❤

  2. neej says:

    Shum Shum talk about giving each other space…it has taken me three months to find you…I miss you and i hope you come back to tell me crazy stories about China in person..chau love ya!!

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