Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Days 141 - 144. Dali, Yunnan, China

To my shame, I have only just noticed that China is currently run by a man called Who? and another man called When?

Who? is the President, and When? is the Premier, though I'm damned if I could tell you what the difference between their jobs is, since I think they both spend most of their days attempting to prevent their fellow citizens from discovering the truth about the world. When not engaging in facile meetings with craven foreign leaders, that is.

Who? is informally known on some subversive Chinese blogs as Hu Jintao, while When? is sometimes given the nickname Wen Jiabao.

What prospects for the complete quintet?

Why? might be putting in an appearance at some point, since Wai is a respectable Chinese surname.

How?, likewise (Hao).

What?, though, is a longer shot, at least if we restrict ourselves to Mandarin pronounciation. Maybe you can be called Wat in Cantonese - I don't know. No doubt a correspondent will let us know.

Should you ever find yourself visiting Dali, incidentally, don't take the kids at Christmastime, because they will get all excited about the signs showing the way to Santa. Unfortunately, Father Christmas has not emigrated from Lapland; Santa is Chinese for Three Pagodas. Of course, if your children like pagodas, this will be fine.

If you get into trouble in the Three Pagodas area, don't worry, help is at hand in the form of a useful bilingual noticeboard giving emergency telephone numbers. As a public service, I reproduce the more important ones here:

Tour the hurl tell: 670384
Consume the nurl tell: 12315

Sadly I didn't have time to call the numbers and find out what the hell it was all about. I was busy up the road admiring a petrol station with petrol pumps called Wayne.

I realise that photographic evidence of the mysteries above might make more compelling entertainment than verbal descriptions, but the technological legers-de-main required to upload images are beyond my cold fingers this afternoon (I write from Zhongdian at 3200 metre).

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