Not quite, but still it gets to you after a few days.
Just a little warning though, there are VERY few foreigners here, white, Indian, Japanese etc. And every foreigner speaking English here smile to each other like you’ve just found home. If I wasn’t travelling with my 2 other Chinese friend, lets not even go there..
The open staring in China was massive. Heads turn everywhere I go. People ask to take photos with me, and sometimes they don’t. I’m just there and the shutter sounds.
When they find out I speak Mandarin, they go on a frenzy. I suspect it’s the same for Caucasians. Once I was walking down the streets outside the bus station in LiJiang (this was where the staring was worst), every family that was having dinner on the big round tables in a restaurant turned to stare at me, for a very long time. Me walking down the street to get to the freaking bakery.
The thing is, they are so curious! I’ve never actually felt threatened by my colour. And most of the people there just have not seen other races, and we are plain weird to them. I mean how the hell did you end up looking like that?!
Questions that were shot at me:
1. Why are you so dark?
2. Why are your eyes so round?
3. Why are your nose so sharp?
4. Why do you have little hairs on your forearms?
5. What do you eat? Do you eat rice?
And the list can go on and on. My inn manager asked if he can touch my hands. And inspect he did. It was hilarious but uncomfortable nonetheless!
A white man I saw in McDonalds (in Kunming) looked so alone. I still remember his pleading eyes (no exaggerations!). The cure would’ve been a dose of English. Sorry pal, my friend wanted to come back after 10.30 to get his FIFA burger. I can’t stay.
In short, be prepared for lack of English in Yunnan, even in a city like Kunming itself.
If you’re not fine being the loner type, come with someone. I’m a loner and still.. I think it can be because it’s quite hard to break into the Chinese people here, mingle with them etc. Everyone is looking for a business opportunity, in every way. And after being here for a few days, you’ll find yourself in a ‘no scams’ shell, hence you will be interacting a lot less with the locals, hence the solitude.
Definitely check Yunnan out. It’s not racism, it’s just curiosity badly masked.