Notes on the Geography of China: Kunming and the Road North
Here's a record of what we saw in 1990 when we set out from Kunming to Xhenziong.
First, we had a bit of time to wander around Kunming.
The city's markets were already responding to the liberalizing rural economy.
But there were still plenty of people doing the hardest physical labor.
A quantum leap: from manpower to horsepower.
Some women had bound feet; others wore hot-pink.
A modern city was emerging from the body of a traditional one.
On the way north we passed a smelting town.
The work was done in huts like these, smoking like an inferno.
The smelting was done in clay vessels arrayed in ranks like pots on a clay stove. In certain lights, the brew burned green. Zinc? Maybe.
Farther north, potatoes. An interesting crop--and clearly not something of any great antiquity, since potatoes arrived with the Europeans.
Compared to coastal China, Zhenxiong town was remote and poor, but the kids seemed happy.
A few miles north of Zhenxiong, this beautiful valley.
Corn, another American crop. In the background, a cave that swallowed up the water passing through the valley.
The cave mouth. The passage was some miles long. Local boys said that they had passed through it.
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