Source: Imphal Free Press
By R.K. Shivachandra
KUNMING: To Many South East Asian Countries Kunming is much more than a tourist destination. They consider it as a Holy Place, a land their ancestors belonged some 2000 years before from now. There was a strong inseparable cultural ties among Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. This was emboldened more with a general concept of being the same ancestral background and root. There are some minorities which has link with Tibet too. The old religious beliefs in South East Asia particularly among the youths have now replaced gradually by the concept of Confucianism that encouraged worshiping of ancestors. So people from all these countries traced back their ancestral root to Kunming. Today many such nations even Thailand has agreed to channel fund towards the glory of Kunming. As far as economy status is concerned, Laos and Cambodia are far below the economical graph but when it comes to the question of ‘ancestral roots’ there is no compromise. They will do everything deemed necessary. Many TAI groups that scattered around the South East Asia believed Yunan province to be the source of TAI groups. Some suggests that whole of the South East Asia are Shans (TAI groups). In the fashion filled, helter –skelter city that completely rebuild itself every passing year and amidst the cut throat rat race of the Asian Countries a new wave has been spread like a wildfire known as “Root of identity”.
When we reached Kunming we were being greeted by a placid and welcoming weather unlike the one in Central China. Yunan has been known as “South of the Clouds” because of its attractive city Kunming. It is the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of Yunan, and is the seat of the provincial government. It is also home to several universities, museums, galleries and other important economic, cultural, and educational institutions. Kunming has an estimated population of 5,740,000 including 3,055,000 in the urban area.
Kunming with lovely mountains all around and with her vast assets appeared before me “A dream Manipur after 400 years from now” however it may be a bed dream, a utopian concept perhaps. The present situation is too discouraging. I have a craze of colourful mountains and hills. They are romantic in nature. The good book says “Mountains are the stairway to God”. But mountains and hills in Manipur tells different story. The lovely mountains and lush green landscape that often described to be the Switzerland in East has no longer inspired the humble poet to write his mesmerizing verse any more. Thanks to the wheel of time. Had Dr. kamal ever born at this point of time his great work “Ureirei Madhavi” would not have seen the light of the day. Which crazy poet would reach for his pen to portray the scenery of misdeeds that buried in the plains and greenery of hills? Who will describe the beauty of the misty hills and heavenly whites when every second ticks ‘Alarm’? Alas! Tears ran down from the bright eyes of the innocents, endeavouring to negotiate its way to the streams of justice yet its level could not reach to the crime maniac souls. They have no tears obviously suffered from xerophthalmia-the eyes with no tears ailment. So peace is still a cry in wilderness.
Till the sounds of crackers are drowned amidst the misty mountains and the burning flames are doused off by sprinkling holy water of brotherhood, nothing can stop Manipur from her devastation. We the indigenous people of Manipur can only stop it, defusing the countdown. We are the best for the job. Waiting for some one to come and help us is indeed an absurd concept. As absurd as the play of Samuel Beckett’s“Waiting for Godot”, in which two parsons waiting for someone named Godot for two days who they have never seen in life. They claimed him as an acquaintance but Infact they hardly know him. Why should we wait him for? Even if he comes he will claim the pound of flesh, the pumping meat next to your heart with his blazing dagger. Think of something if what we can start again. Once we are formed into one only then prepare to meet the mightiest empire the World has ever known and you will emerge out with triumphant cup. Thinking of separate race, separate entity and slice it off in this already small state of ours is simply flying with the mischievous fairies.
Back to our visit to Kunming -Hotels in Kunming are of reasonable rates and foods are unbelievably cheap. It is always suggested that we go for the road side vendors instead of going to the expensive restaurants. If you can perform some acts of body language you may be allowed to cook yourselves in the roadside vendors. They always co-operate with us subject to the correct approach that demands modesty and well manner. But never expect your English will make its way in Kunming. They speak no language other than the Chinese. So believe in yourself and try to act what you want through your body’s act.
In Kunming we should not visit the trendy fashion houses if you are looking out for the cheaper clothing. The nearby shops of Kunming flowers and birds market are the best and there are many market places which are worth visiting. It will be wrong to give a full account of Kunming in four days experience but definitely the city is an eye opener for the people in the North eastern part of India. Never think of travelling a long distance from Kolkata but think of travelling by your own border roads in a low cost affair with a vision of border tourism which can be later coordinated with trade and commerce.
Kunming is among the four greatest cities in China. The City attracts more tourists who loved to travel to Hanoi in Vietnam, Mandalay in Myanmar and Laos. Trains to Hekou the border to Vietnam leave from the North train station and tickets can be purchased instantly. We can also travel by bus. It takes about 12 hours to reach the border of Vietnam. Visas can be obtained at Vietnam Consulate office. Yunnan shares border with 4 Vietnamese provinces, namely Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Lao Cai and Ha Giang. The people of Yunnan have long enjoyed friendly relations with their Vietnamese neighbours. Laos is easier to travel for there is visa on arrival system.
Likewise from Zegao in China we can travel to Myanmar after completion of immigration formalities where our visa will be stamped out means out from china.For such trip we need to apply double entry visa for China and visa for Myanmar also needed to be arranged in advance from Kolkata. There is no visa on arrival facilities at both the borders. As of now we need to contact a travel agency in Myanmar before such trip. A Myanmar government guide will escort us up to Lashio about 250 Kms from the border than we will be allowed to look after ourselves. Never carry the old fashioned Indian Passport that is hand written. Please change it to the computerised printing otherwise you could land in trouble. My friend Maibam Boudhajit who possessed a hand written passport was detained sometime at the border by one handsome but dreaded looking Immigration official. Ultimately he was released after volleys of questions, queries bombarded on him. The moment was disembarrassing for three of us have already cleared and landed in Myanmar soil. He was only the one left out in China. On the denial of the official he can either be arrested till further clarification was made or he can be sent back to Kunming from there he can catch a flight to India.
Anyway despite all hurdles things came out of the blues that after a long torturing investigation we four united again. We bade goodbye to China thereafter proceeded to the Muse town where our Myanmar guide was waiting for us.