Lesley and the girls with Paul, Jiajia (right) and Emily (left), outside Jiajia's clothes shop in a trendy party of Kunming that's been named by locals, 'Foreigner Street'.
Leaving early for Beijing allowed us to catch up with Paul in Kunming for a couple of days. We haven’t had much time together in the last year and he’s heading off abroad (UK and Africa) on Wednesday, returning to China in the New Year. It will be his first time back home in four years and we’re sure he’s in for a bit of a shock – the price of things in particular. At least he’ll be able to bring his own pork pies back with him this time!

One of the highlights of this visit was meeting Jiajia (aka Ava), Paul’s lovely girlfriend. After having lunch with them and Emily (another friend who is back in Kunming after a year of studying in England) we went to visit Jiajia’s clothes shop. Her shop has a great range of casual and more formal outfits. She makes monthly trips to Shenzhen to pick up stock for her regular customers. What she doesn’t sell to them in her upstairs fitting lounge, goes on the rail. I asked her how she selects her stock, to which she replied, “I just buy things I like. It’s not so good for business because I should try to buy clothes for more tastes, but I can’t buy clothes I don’t like.” This maybe reflects the fact that Jiajia is an artist at heart, having studied design at Xiamen University, and not only a business woman. Although she loves to design her own clothes, she doesn’t have time these days. She did, however, take time to come shoe shopping with me. This was no easy task. As well as my feet being larger than the average Chinese person, both Jiajia and I seem to have quite different tastes from what’s currently in fashion – glitter, bows and various other unnecessary decorations. After three and a half hours we finally stumbled upon what we were looking for – a traditional pair of embroidered silk Chinese shoes. These are now known as my ‘Wen Jiabao shoes’ are I may well meet him when they’re on my feet. So long as I’m not tempted to take one off and, and…….

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