Rambling about ambling
24th Jul 2011 - 4500 miles by land - SE Asia
'How do we get around this area?' 'Walk.'
The aim of the taxi journey that I rambled about in the last diary thing was to get to the South Bus station in time to get a ticket for the 10:20 bus to Yuanyang to see the rice terraces. We were entirely right in our cynical optimism, and arrived at the bus station (much to the taxi driver's joy and mild surprise at the existence of said bus station - turned out we weren't lying about it after all) at 10:21. There was then the opportunity for another prolonged, slightly lost-in-translation conversation, this time with the woman selling long-distance bus tickets. Eventually we made it out, triumphantly clutching 2 tickets for the 10:20 bus the next day!
Yuanyang's a 6 and a half hour bus ride away from Kunming, through rolling hills for the first few hours and then through mahoosive mountains for the last 2. To get to the terraces, the bus steadily climbs into the mountains for an hour. Roadwise think hairpin bends, sheer drops to one side and deep drainage ditches to the other, drivers who secretly harbour ambitions to be F1 drivers and potholes occasionally filled in with sawdust. For most fo the way up the mountain's covered in trees and greenery, before giving way to the start of the terraces. We were deposited in a cold, grey, drizzly town called Xinshi to haggle it out with minibus drivers for a lift further up to Duoyishu, which Lonely Planet assured us was a pretty place to visit (in a slightly more gushing way). Onwards through the rain and cloud, through more potholes than you could shake any number of sticks at! Until the minibus screeched to a halt at the top of a flight of concrete steps going down past faded yellow houses in the middle of nowhere; we set off on the directions of 'Walk that way' in search of a guesthouse we'd heard about. Our searching proved to be futile until a pair of Germans happened to appear in the same square that we stood in - apparently they'd never seen such joy on people's faces as we all but leaped on them in a joyous frenzy of 'FOREIGNERS WITHOUT BAGS! THEY MUST BE STAYING SOMEWHERE AND CAN TELL US WHERE!'.
The guesthouse, when we made it there, was brilliant. It looks straight across the valley to the mountains on the other side, all covered in brilliantly green paddies and wibbling layers of terraces, with chunks of cloud constantly drifting up out of the valley and up towards the tops of the mountains. One of the owners, a woman called Lily, does all of the cooking with a teeny tiny old Auntie - all of the food's fresh out of the garden and tasted amazing. Lily doesn't speak a lot of english, so often just shouts 'Hello helloooooo!' or 'Okay okay' to get people's attention. Clouds of camera-shy orange and blue dragonflies flit around everywhere, landing on bits of stone or chair for a few seconds but always vanishing just as a picture's about to be taken. The kids giggle and try to take sneaky pictures of the foreigners, waiting for us to do something interesting and running away laughing when we pull faces.
Tomorrow we flee the country on a 26 hour bus to Laos - shiny new country time!
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