welcome to the haikutimes

Issue #55, China: Kunming, April 12-13, 2003. Haiku and photographs by jonathan.

flying to kunming
we eat warm dry buns
which i stuff with prepackaged
mustard greens and bamboo shoots
but am unable to finish

wearing a red mao t-shirt
woman walks up overpass
in downtown kunming

if you say the word
for internet the wrong way
you will insult him

in his blue turban
and exotic countenance
he loves the women

Pepi Kochhar, our Sierra Club trip leader, is an Indian native who has settled in New York. After studying engineering and getting a degree in management he decided to enter the real estate market, and is able to conduct most of his business while on the road, using the internet. He wears a turban at all times - a light blue or grey wrap around his head, secured in a neat bundle with small pins. He is short and his dark black beard shows signs of white underneath. He has a relaxed attitude and loves the chinese women. Knowing me to be single, he confides to me the ones that really affect him, and mostly I find that I agree.

recounting her trips
without bothering to count
she has seen the world

Barbara Lenssen, a semi-retired psychologist who has traveled extensively, is in her 70's. She has lived in Santa Fe for many years, has made seventeen trips to Africa, is a lover of green chilis on toasted cheese bread and the Santa Fe Opera. She among all the others on the trip shared my interest in writing haiku as a way of invoking our unusual surroundings.

spilling hot coffee
on the flight to kunming
writhing in small seat

Keith Anderson, husband to Barbara Lenssen, is a financial consultant from Santa Fe, formerly a grocery store executive. The tallest of our group, he asks insightful questions of our tour guides that reveal a deep understanding of the world and the way different cultures interact.

planning his next trip
forest service architect
finds a new career

emailing her son
she tells me not to have kids
or just teenagers

Gene and Gayle from Denver: The distant antics of their 19-year old son have amused us as he sends various bits of internet half-truths about his whereabouts, causing them to make a bee line for the internet cafes to try and figure out what is going on. Gene is a retired architect who worked for the Park Service; of jewish heritage, with a greying beard, balding, big teeth, large glasses. He is involved in leading Sierra Club trips as well and will be taking a group to Nepal in the fall, as well as leading several backpacking trips. His main interest now appears to be traveling and wilderness adventures. Witty, slighty acerbic. Gayle is a greying, bubbly, youthful nurse from Denver, occasionally ribald with a healthy perspective about life and it's pitfalls. Slightly dour sense of humor, very adventurous and curious.

her large floppy hat
and unabashed photo style
raise chinese eyebrows

Probably the most colorful and complex character of the group: Cassandra , in her early 50's. lost her husband in a plane crash six years ago. Extensively travelled and well educated in literature and the arts, she feels frustrated, as I do, at the short amount of time we have to really explore and investigate. She is the 'princess' of the group, stating so herself at her unflinching readiness to have her exact desires attended to. She is slighty heavyset and attracts much attention wherever we go on account of her floppy hats which take up lots of real estate. she is somewhat demanding but at the same time she can be charming and adventurous. She is bold and unafraid to be outspoken in the face of challenging situations. Will take a picture of anybody.

rescuing our group
from inept chinese waitress
at crisis moment

maomao, our guide. Hailing from Nanjing, this man in his early 40's speaks excellent english. this Sierra Club trip is the second he has led. His perspective in China is tremendously valuable to me, and without him we would be flailing completly. He is well organized and totally helpful in helping us manage all the small details of negotiating this intense place.

stealth rearing their pets
walking their dog after dark
chinese fear the fine

chinese street mural
done in style of old landscapes
cracking and peeling

headdress with two horns
means the girl is a virgin
or just plain horny

our new guide for this section
(he said just call him james)
flits between comprehension and uncomprehension
on the snakey shakey cramped bus ride
thru the outskirts of kunming towards
the famous stone forest

the sky is perpetually hazy
gigantic coal fired power plant rests
uneasily near large lakes,
people take the uneven two
lane highway in every form of transportation -
horses, mini-taxis, bicycles, smog-
belching government looking trucks

james points out the narrow guage
railway that goes from kunming to
viet nam - high above the highway,
something the french wanted in their bid
to extract the resources from this rich
land - "the land of spring", and transport
it through to viet nam.

on the hills outside of kunming
roadside tree trunks white

ducks frolic in creek
then end up in a street stall
pale yellow teardrops

men drinking tea
in truck cab propped up on blocks
boy scurries after
yellow duck chicks

we stop at a local village, one
that apparrently puts up with tourists
examining their somewhat cramped
and preindustrial surroundings.

the outside world does get
through but much remains the same
we walk on pathways of wheat
to help break the seed
watch locals at work, locals sittin'

god of protection
on pink transparent paper
outside yu doorway

families threshing wheat
in center of yu village
old folks just look on

terraces outside
close red brick walls inside
open pit latrine

banging wheat on drums
any way to separate
the staff from the chaff

at the stone forest i avoid the expected tour
lecture and disappear as soon as we
get near the stone formations, after
lunch - to draw - and i have so little
time to do so. when will i ever be
here again?

i do two drawings
we head back to kunming
spending far more time on the highway
than we do at our destination

tradition be damned
horns on hat get in the way
of brand new cell phone

tips for the tourists:
not allowed to touch the horn
but you can grab the bell

limestone carst landscape
blue butterflies flit between
eroded grey fins

finally at forest
made entirely of stone
just one hour to sketch

glad i'm not riding
my tour bike in this traffic
like that couple is

horse drawn veggie carts
mercedes benz and blue trucks
share busy highway

no one notices
cannabis plant in compost
except me that is

dressed for the tourists
colorful horny head gear
by thorny grey karsts

i escape into CNN
on our return to the hotel and obsess about
world politics - the statue of saddam
falls in baghdad while i drink green tea

for dinner we go to a production of
'jixin banquet dance of china' and
attempt to eat while we are
overstimulated with
theatrics and costumes

yunan concert meal
hard to focus on the food
with kingdoms clashing

parasols behind
floating pink lotus blossoms
skin colored lycra

just like mr plum
auction lady works the crowd
for song dynasty vase

generations change
but the land remains the same
young people wander

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen