Written by Dillan Trojan, (Wofford College) Student Correspondent Middlebury School in China: Kunming, Fall 2015
It’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks, and it’s getting into a system where every week feels like another exam week – except it wasn’t as hard as midterms. Can’t imagine exam week being any more fun. But it’s been a culture-packed and interesting couple of weeks, so I wanted to interrupt my series of serious and wanna-be ‘deep’ blogs with a quick update on a few things I’ve done recently.
I’m not a huge fan of getting my hair cut – I usually do it myself because I’m careful and I’ve gone out to get it cut and been disappointed too many times. However, the best haircuts that I have ever gotten have been in China, and they always do exactly what I want. It is a little terrifying, because I dare you to find a textbook lesson that tells you how to tell the barber to cut your hair. But I can’t walk around looking all ratty, so I gotta do it.
So a quick run-down of every haircut I’ve gotten in China. They always start by washing your hair – every time. I’ve had quite a few times where they wash my hair twice before cutting it. Then they cut it like regular people, but not. I’m fascinated with what they can do with clippers without using a guard. Again, best haircuts of my life. Then they wash it again, so any residual natural oils are g-g-gone. Then they’ll try to help you style it. I’ve learned that doesn’t suit me too well, because they don’t know how to style thin, blonde, white-people hair.
Every time I go somewhere, they always remember exactly who I am and how they cut it the last time. I’ve been told that ‘white people hair is so much more interesting to cut’, so I guess I can sort of leave an impression. After a month in between haircuts, the guy that I have gone to twice knew exactly how I had it cut last time, the person I came with, everything. Heck, the first time I got my hair cut in Kunming, the shampoo boy spent 20 minutes washing it the first time. The second time, he only spent 15 minutes. Let me just CLEAR UP MY AFTERNOON FOR YA. It’s fine. As creepy as he was, he gave fantastic head massages. Photo credit for these goes to Tommy McKelvey after accompanying me to one of my trips this semester.
The Chinese newspaper reading class was recently studying traditional Chinese medicine, and organized a trip to go get checked out by a traditional Chinese doctor. This was a fun day. Everyone else either had an issue or made one up to go get seen by a doctor, so I took pictures. Great choice, it looked a little painful.
I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, but here’s a little background. For physical pain, you give them a run-down of your body recently, how you’ve felt, and how you hurt it. Then they’ll likely shove a bunch of needles in your skin. For internal discomfort, they’ll feel your pulse, look at your tongue, and ask how you’ve slept recently. There’s a lot of tradition behind it, but there’s obviously something to it. Youyou Tu has just won a Nobel Prize in medicine for combining western medicine with Chinese medicine to develop anti-malaria treatment.
I haven’t been looking at the schedule for the semester, because I like to be surprised. Sometimes when it comes to exams and stuff, I get really surprised. But I’ve said all semester that if we don’t go to the stone forest, we’re wasting everyone’s time, because it’s pretty much the most famous thing in Yunnan, among other things. Our ever so awesome Alex organized a great Saturday trip to the rock park, and I don’t know about everyone else, but I was impressed.
The area is called the stone forest because, well, the rocks are tall and skinny and look like trees. They’re a result of Yunnan’s previous location – underwater. And the park is absolutely beautiful. The tall pillars of rock pop against the luscious fields of green grass. There’s nothing like it. I heard it was a walking-style park and the morning was chilly, so I wore the only pair of jeans I’ve found in China that fit (I swear, there’s nothing but slim fit or super-slim fit). It turned into more of a hike than I thought, there were tight passages that I could barely fit through after taking off my pack, and massive inclines that were definitely worth the hike.
I’m taking a rock-climbing class in January, and decided to give it a go on some of the easier portions. I’ve dedicated some time in Kunming to getting fit, lost like 15-20 pounds, and can do actual pull ups now. Only, you can’t see that the top of these rocks are like knives, and are super scary once you get on top of them. Yes, I had a wonderful time.