Two summers ago I spent four days in Yunnan, China. I had never been there before and had no idea what was in store for me. On the day of our departure my two aunts, two uncles, three cousins, sister, parents, grandparents, and I lugged our luggage to the bus stop in front of Food World to await the bus that was coming to pick us up for the airport. We waited and waited, and then waited some more. The temperature must have been at LEAST 100 degrees and standing outside in that kind of weather is far from a cake walk. After 45 minutes, we tried to go into the furniture shop next to the bus stop to wait in air conditioning, but as soon as we had dragged all our luggage inside, a lady with a smile plastered to her face came up and shooed us out since we were blocking the doorway (even though she clearly could see sweat dripping down our faces). So we hulled our luggage back outside to wait in the heat once more. Finally, the travel guide arrived without as much as a “sorry,” even though she was an hour and a half late. When we got to Kunming an hour and a half later, we boarded another bus and went to the train station. By the time we got on the train, we were all exhausted and slept soundly on our bunks.
We arrived at the Dali train station at 6:00AM the next day and boarded yet another bus to take us to Shangri-La. We left the city boundaries and were greeted by cascades of majestic mountains. My cousins pointed out small little huts hidden in the mountain’s crevices. I was in awe at the scenery and took pictures nonstop. We had left civilization and entered into a world you only read about in story books. People dressed in traditional clothing were herding yaks next to the only main road, women were out tending their rice fields, and children were outside dancing and having a jolly good old time.
The next day we went to the Pudacuo National Park
(http://www.nature.org/wherewework/asiapacific/china/work/pudacuo.html). It was filled with pristine glacial lakes and soaring mountains. My cousins, sister, and I went exploring the area outside the park because we had ended the hiking trail early and saw a small traditional Zhang hut. All of a sudden, three kids dressed in traditional Zhang clothing popped out of nowhere holding flowers and said something in a dialect I couldn’t understand. Then the smallest girl put her flowers in my hands. I was really surprised and when I tried to give them back, she pushed the flowers back to me. I smiled and thanked her in Mandarin, and even though they couldn’t understand me, she saw that smile and knew her kindness was appreciated. It was then I realized that sure, we might not speak the same language, but a genuine smile can speak for a thousand words; and although we meet people in life who are inconsiderate, like the lady who kicked us out of the furniture store and our travel guide, there are other people like these small kids, who were just six or seven years old, that could be so pure hearted as to give flowers to complete strangers. It’s always the simple acts of kindness that people remember the most, and even after two years, I remember that little girl that gave me that bouquet of flowers. A million of the most expensive roses couldn’t replace that single bouquet of wildflowers.
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