Ripples in the Clouds

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Three days ago, we moved to our new home in Dali.  Most rentals require a one-year contract so we settled for a guest house that offered long-term stays with a monthly instead of daily charge.  It was a good deal and appropriate bargain for us.  Instead of squeezing into one bedroom, we had an extra, ante-room where we could finally unload all the things that jam-packed our car.  There’s no closet, drawers or kitchen but we can do our laundry and it’s like we have a spacious living room garden right outside with flowers, swing and miniature waterfall.  We still have to live with plastic bags of clothes instead of cabinets although every time I pass by a shop selling simple home stuff, I have to stop myself from purchasing a shelf.

The guest house comes with a dog — a golden retriever which makes Joshua and Jimmy excited to come home every evening.  This morning, Jimmy and I took the puppy out to pee when he exhibited signs that he had to, so he was a well-trained pup indeed.  The guest house kitchen is still not finished but though we have no place to cook, we did figure out where the locals dine so we don’t have to spend a fortune on meals.  The supermarket is less than ten minutes walk and there’s a church nearby that has an English bible study every Saturday afternoon which I have yet to check out.

What makes guest house living interesting is that there are different families and travelers passing through and kids easily make friends with other kids.  From the huge picture window of our ante-room, we can see Joshua and Jimmy play with other kids and the pup, Didi.  The guest house boss loves making tea in one corner and there’s a table right outside our room where Joshua, Jimmy and I do our homeschooling work in what seems to be our very own patio.  Essentially, we get a whole house (minus the kitchen but that one will be finished soon) for the price of a room.

The guest house is located in the area both Jason and I were automatically drawn to — right on the mountain slope and beside one of the eighteen canals that bring the water down from the cloud-tipped top to the ancient city.  It amazes me how vibrant this engineering system which predates who knows what dynasty.  Nature meets man – shaped and unshaped granite blocks, stones rough and hewn, lush vines and moss, the sound of water ever flowing.

Today we continued the journey around Erhai lake, this time taking the car to give our “pigus” a rest.  We ran into a portion where there were too many big tour buses so we went past that, stopped by antique houses and two picnic sites. The last one had beach umbrellas strewn throughout a pebbled shore and food vendors offered grilled corn, eggplant and fried fish, shrimp, mini-lobsters, mushrooms and sausages.  Jimmy took off his clothes and swam in the sky-merged lake.   Joshua and Jimmy threw stones and made ripples in the clouds.

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