Prepping for my upcoming move has been my part-time job for the last two months. It’s been a good few weeks full of paperwork and travel. Last month I’ve been back and forth to Kunming a whopping three times – the first time to welcome officials to check out our ‘office’ (my business partner Eline’s yoga room), the second time to hand in my passport at the Entry and Exit office and the third time to pick up my passport. I secured another one year residence permit and got to hang out with my Kunming friends. In between, I was home for a few days. During those days Kunming came to me, with lots of friends and a dog visiting the courtyard.
Bye bye my beautiful home
Last month I signed away the lease to the courtyard. Chang and his dad came to Dali to meet the owner and to see the courtyard. We spent a few days of friendly negotiations, discussing future Artist in Residency collaborations, drinking bottomless cups of tea. We finished off the proceedings with an amazing fish dinner to celebrate the successful handover. It was emotional and I cried a little bit. Chang is a great new owner though – an architect, designer and cyclist. It feels as if the place is staying ‘in the family’ and I hope to visit next year. I’m glad I got it sorted out a couple of months before leaving – one less worry on my mind.
Returning to good old Europe
Last week was all about booking flights for me and Ding Ding. Booking a trip for me is relatively straightforward, considering Covid. I found a 12 November flight from Beijing to Sofia via Frankfurt with Lufthansa, at a price level not too far off from ‘before’. Getting Ding Ding to Europe is quite stressful. I need more red stamps in his vaccination booklet, I’m now an expert on cat sedatives, I have to book pet transport and a separate flight from Kunming to Beijing, I’m spending one night in a fancy hotel near Beijing Capital Airport where they charged me an extortionate surcharge to have him with me in the room.
The ultimate hurdle will be getting his exit papers from the customs office in Kunming the week before we fly. The last I heard was from friends who went there to ask about the procedure. Officials there were saying they had never done it before. This often means extra hassle for them, and extra hassle often means a firm ‘no’. Fingers and paws crossed we can get this sorted out without too much added stress. Lili will stay in the courtyard, with Chang and his dog.
The last two weeks have been dedicated to packing up my collection of qipao, tea ware and high quality pu’er tea cakes, art works and books and sending it all off to Plovdiv. Shipping can take up to three months and also comes with a hefty pandemic price tag. I’ve rented an Airbnb for three months where I can find my feet and look for a longer term apartment to let.
Coming up: PechaKucha Night Dali II – Architecture with Intention
With most of the red tape out of the way I can now look forward to two more months in the courtyard in relative peace. I’ve picked a date for the next PechaKucha Night Dali. On Saturday, October 16, Dutch and Chinese architects will present at September Bar.
Celebrating Yunnan life
Apart from prepping for the event and working my online job I also hope to work on my Yunnan bucket list. I want to hike Tiger Leaping Gorge and Haba Snow Mountain, more cycling, more camping, soak in a hot spring, visit the Three Pagodas. I also want to generally enjoy life in the village with the occasional (dinner) party with friends. My flatmate Ule organized a clothing swap event at the courtyard. A bunch of stylish ladies showed up to get rid of and find ‘new’ outfits. Great fun!
It’s funny to think about how I arrived four and a half years ago with just a bicycle and a few panniers containing all my stuff. Funny how I now have to run a one-woman military operation spanning several months to properly hand over my company, my house and ship the rest – plus a cat and myself – to another country. I have accumulated a lot here, and not just an expensive taste for tea and a wardrobe full of pretty Chinese dresses. Every morning I start with my tea practice and I write, following the Artist’s Way. Underneath the stress of prepping my exit is a profound happiness at everything I have found here in China, and in myself. I’m confident I will continue to expand this artwork that is life in Bulgaria too.