After 3 days in Chongqing we took the bumpy flight to Kunming – the elevated capital of Yunnan province 1,900 metres above sea level. Kunming is called ‘The City of Eternal Spring’ due to its mild climate, which keeps the temperature comfortable and the flowers blooming all year round.
The clear air and warm sunshine were very welcome after the clouds and fog of Chongqing. It didn’t take long for the city’s laid-back vibe to weave it’s magic on us and we adapted to our new surroundings remarkably quickly.
I had two events in Kunming. The first was a talk about ‘Y Bardd Anfarwol’ and my time in Chengdu at a new arts centre near the University. It was the launch night for the Elephant Arts Centre and there were plenty of people in attendance. I spoke with a lot of people after the talk and it was really fascinating for me to get feedback on the album from a diverse Chinese audience.
The venue was gorgeous and we were treated to musical performances from local artists as well. The arts centre is an extension of a popular local bookshop, Elephant Books, which is a truly wonderful place to stop for a coffee and a browse.
The following day we met a new group of musicians to rehearse ready for a performance in a live music venue called Camel Bar. I feel very privileged to have been able to meet and play with so many musicians during the tour, and the musicians in Kunming were extremely helpful and friendly. I had sheet music for all the musicians to learn and only a few hours to rehearse so we got to work in the afternoon before sound checking.
The concert was completely different to those in Chongqing and the arts centre the previous night. Camel Bar was full of people eating, drinking, socialising and gambling which contributed to a very vibrant atmosphere. It wasn’t necessarily the best venue to perform quiet acoustic music with a traditional Chinese ensemble however and I think the noise and the freshness of the parts meant that we lost our way at times. After performing the first set with the musicians I returned for a second set by myself, which I enjoyed immensely. I like the challenge of trying to tame a lively crowd with just an acoustic guitar; it’s something that I learned to do early on when I started performing in Wales!
By the end of the night I was shattered and was very grateful when I got to my bed. In the morning we would be flying out again, after being barely 48 hours in Kunming. We were heading for the city where all this began; Chengdu.