This was my second weekend in Kunming, but my first where I had nothing to do other than what I had planned to do, which, as of Friday night, was going to be the path of least resistance: doing nothing. Instead, my friend and fellow EAPSI participant, Chris Ortega, a die-hard Texan (he actually brought the Texas flag to China, though he is not yet proudly displaying it for the Chinese world to take in) who is a Materials Science graduate student at Houston, invited me to come down to his hotel and stay the weekend. There are a total of 30 China EAPSI fellows this year, but half stayed in Beijing for their work and only one other, Chris, ventured to Kunming with me. Whereas I am in the rural North of the city, Chris is in the thick of things, located right at the southern edge of one of the campuses of Yunnan University, where my friend and former fellow SLU Biology graduate student, Ming, is now an assistant professor. Initially hesitant, I decided (with my wife's long-distance coaxing in my head: "you should go out and have an adventure") to give it a try, so I hopped into a taxi, showed the driver the address on my phone, and prayed that this kind-hearted soul understood where I was headed and would lead me in the right direction (and not around in circles).
As I said, every traveler should be blessed enough to have a Ming with them. Ming has big plans for us over the next several weeks. I'm looking forward to having my feet placed in some water at a spa where some fish will nibble the dead skin off of them, traveling to the beautiful cities of Dali and Lijiang, and tasting some of the teas that his friends sell. Without my friend here, I think I'd struggle with just leaving my front door.
Find your Ming.