Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
195Trip End Feb 28, 2013
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Where I stayed
GETTING A SECOND CHANGE FOR A GOOD IMPRESSION
January 26, 2011 – Botanical Gardens in Jinghong City
Good Fortune at Mei Mei Cafe
When we got up, we were ready to get out of the rat hole hotel and move on. We packed up and walked two blocks to Mei Mei’s Café for a great breakfast.
Steven told us about a great hotel near Mei Mei’s and told us what a lovely area Jinghong was. Mei Mei’s sister called the hotel for us. Rate for today would be 380 RMB then drop to 300, then 200 then back to a normal 128RMB ($20) on Sunday. The rooms were very nice and we decided to stay at a few more days. We ended up spending six days.
Meeting up Again with Kevin and Mindy
When we were at Jacky’s in Douyishu, we had tentatively arranged to meet Kevin and Mindy (the couple from Michigan) at the Forest Café as they returned from a three day trek and do some touring of the area together. We got to the Cafe a bit early and thought we would sip smoothies while we waited. No dice. The doors were locked up. A guy at the neighboring shop told us the café would open soon at about 7PM. We sat on the steps and chatted with some UK guys who were also waiting for the café to open. They were teaching in China. It seems all the westerners we meet lately teach in China and are traveling during the school holiday. They boys told tales about being 2 of only 3 westerners in their city of 5 million, some verbal abuse they receive because of it, about a monthly pay deposit not arriving in a bank account because the school was holding it hostage to make sure they returned after the holiday, about the crazy workload and the number of students in the classes. They were loving the experience and considering signing up for another year!
At 7PM sharp, a van pulled up with Kevin and Mindy and another couple returning from the trek and Sara, the owner of Forest Café, who had been their guide. We chatted with Kevin and Mindy and agreed to meet for dinner at Mei Mei’s after they had a chance to clean up.
January 27, 2012 – Botanical Garden Day
We joined up with Mindy and Kevin again and walked to a large botanical garden in town. Much of it was dedicated to productive trees like rubber trees, star fruit, banana, mandarins, grape fruit, durian, bread fruit, mango etc. We saw a small demonstration on how they tap the rubber trees and learned the trees are not indigenous to Asia. The species was brought over from Brazil. They have a section of ornamental bushes and bougainvillea. It is not the most impressive garden but it was a nice place to spend the afternoon.
January 28, 2012 – Cycling to the Hot Spring in Ghasa
In the morning, Kevin and Mindy moved to our nice hotel, Jinglan hotel and paid for 3 days.
We planned a cycling trip to the country side. Steven gave us a copy of his handmade map that showed the way to interesting nearby villages. The bike rental shop around the corner gave us good mountain bikes. The main avenues of Jinghong are wide. The avenue leading out of town toward the airport is also wide and lined with large workshops and showrooms containing the famous solid wood tables made out of root-ball of enormous trees. Mindy thought one of them would be a perfect addition to their log cabin home back in Michigan.
We doubled back, according to the map instructions and came to a Dai village of Ghasa with small lanes, brick walls surrounding old wooden houses, some on stilts (some homes were enormous wooden structures) and small courtyards. We checked out the hot spring spa near Ghasa village. Too hot for us on such a hot day. The palm lined pool seemed like a great place to lounge.
We hopped back on our bikes and continued past vegetable patches, palm groves and fish ponds and got to a small village entrance where a saleswoman had set out bolts of colorful fabric and was surrounded by women anxious to purchase. It was a big social event too. Women talked and giggled and showed off their purchases.
Steve’s little map turned out to be very helpful. It had notes and detail in just the right places.
Dai Spontaneous Hospitality
We continued on to the next rural settlement and slowed when we heard a commotion and a loud speaker. We were called over to the side by a man motioning 'eating with chopsticks' and waving to us.
We parked the bikes and thought we were going to a local restaurant. It wasn’t a restaurant but a celebration and we were ushered to a low table laden with food surrounded by nine-inch stools in the alley and were joined by two town ladies. Others stopped to greet us and say a few words. We were encouraged to try everything. We were treated as if we were the event at the event. Women were busy serving all these wonderful, and to us, unique, dishes. The men sat off by themselves peering over at us curiously. Kevin impressed us and our hosts with a modest amount of Chinese. They were able to carry on a simple conversation. Was this wedding celebration? First we were told 'yes’, then ‘no’. We never saw the bride or groom. For whatever occasion, we were all delighted with Dai villager’s spontaneous hospitality.