Music in the Park

kunming city china

I was singing the CCR song Who’ll Stop the Rain in my head as I crossed eight lanes of insane traffic with my bicycle.

I heard the CCR song a lot when I was in Beijing, so it brings back good memories. Plus, between Alaska, England, and China, I have literally had more rain in my life the last three months than sunshine! The weather is enough to make me want to do a mad dash south until I hit palm trees and blue water. I am trying to resist the urge though, at least until I finish exploring the mountains here around Tibet.

I met a Canadian and a German girl in Kunming who were riding their bikes all the way across Asia. That’s pretty hardcore and it inspired me to at least grab a bike today and brave the city traffic in the rain. Cycling paid off though, and I was able to see a lot of Kunming. Also, there is a certain feeling about joining the masses of Chinese motorcycles and bikes on the road…for some reason it makes me feel less of a visitor and gives me a small glimpse into their daily lives.

Chinese guy singing

I rode to a lake surrounded by a nice park, and in the pouring rain, found one of the highlights of my visit to China so far! In my opinion, that is the essence of vagabonding — and life. If I had just stayed at the hostel and let the rain get me down, I would have missed an awesome experience. Instead, I was walking through the park, which is very feng shui with little bridges over waterways, cafes, etc..and heard music. The sounds were easy enough to find, and I ended up walking up on a group of Chinese people playing traditional stringed instruments, a flute, and an accordion.

The ensemble invited me to sit and that’s what I did. I listened for hours as the sad and wavering wail of their voices singing traditional songs mixed with the flute and strings. In the gaps in the music, there was the steady sound of the hard rain hitting the lake and the concrete just outside our little covered shelter.

Pure Zen.

Living poetry. My life is a little more complete now that I heard those sorrowful sounds. Despite some of the challenges of my trip so far, this reminded me why of I travel and dumped some more fuel on the fire inside of my gut.

I must keep going.

I also vowed to always carry a small digital recorder with me from now on for future trips. I have pictures — soon to come.

Life is wet and cold (again), but good.

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  1. In Beijing, across from the Forbidden City, there’s a park which is full of music and singing. I noticed that almost all of the people participating were older. No young people. I hope that doesn’t mean that this tradition will disappear because it really is lovely.nrnr

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