Elizabeth and I travelled together from Beijing through several cities in SW China. We spent time in  Kunming, then Dali, and finally, for Christmas, her friend’s wonderful teak-and-marble guesthouse in Lijiang. Along the way, instead of comprehending China, I became increasingly puzzled. The first couple photos reflect this, and nearly all the others are moments when I could, how shall I put it…Relate?

And the photo at the end? The enamel cup was a gift from Elizabeth. In this fast-moving, wealthy (yes, for some that is true) , avowedly atheist country, well — note the title! — this attitude prevails, or seems to, anyhow. 

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of things, I wemt to breakfast and looked around for utensils. Nothing. Then, this —

Sanitizing chopsticks (breakfast, Kunming)

Sanitizing chopsticks (breakfast, Kunming)

i have no comment…

Above the airport toilet (Kunming)

Above the airport toilet (Kunming)

Everywhere in the Southwest..

...soon to become Pomegranate Juice!

…soon to become Pomegranate Juice!

Lijiang’s warren of streets held linen, silk, antiques, and —

Ubiquitous in Lijiang

Red Tea, Lake Erdai


Elizabeth and I had some great meals in Dali; Cafe de Jack gave us the best view – yes, cherry blossoms in mid-December!

Dinner in Dali

Dinner in Dali

Christmas Eve dinner, Lijiang

Chef's wife offering me yet another piece of Buche de Noel

Chef’s wife offering me yet another piece of Buche de Noe

And finally, a gift from Elizabeth…




Hello, from this town of a little over 20 million (I’m told it’s officially several million less than that), where today’s AQIndex suggests it’s better to wear the carbon-filter mask outside,  than to risk trying to breathe freely.

This week’s flight from MSP was wonderful, as was being met at the airport by Elizabeth, and coming back to the flat a few moments before Roy arrived on his Hybrid. The pedal-powered and electrically-powered bikes he and E. ride to work offer the workout they seem to relish. Their place is an oasis.

I’ve not been to a hutong, though I’ve eyed those mazes  of alleyways from a cab.

I have, however, paid my respects to the Chairman at Tiananmen Square and the 24 emperors who lived in various parts, over various centuries, of The Forbidden City.

No photos. Maybe the ones I’ve taken will show up in a couple weeks, but not in this country which so despises Google and all social media that they’re   inaccessible except by Virtual Personal Network, which I [stupidly] didn’t bother to arrange before landing in Beijing!

Will this post “send”?  It’s a great game!