It's too hot!
Trip Start May 21, 2012
13Trip End Jun 28, 2012
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Where I stayed
Manytrees International Youth Hostel
Anyway, we've come to the end of our stay in Xishuangbanna and in a little while we'll go out to eat and then take the 22:05 (9 hour) sleeper bus back to Kunming. From there we think we'll head down to Jianshui as it's only 3 hours away. We are yet to decide if we'll spend the night there.
So, in Jinghong (Xishuangbanna) we've had more of a relaxing time than the other places. The reason being that it's just been so hot and humid it's hard to find the energy to do something
Xishuangbanna doesn't really feel like China. The area has a 'Thai' influence as there is a strong presence of the Dai ethnic minority group. This means that many of the buildings are Thai in style and there are Dai/Thai restaurants around as well as Chinese. Even many of the people here have a slightly darker skin tone and many people particularly women wear traditional Dai/Thai clothes. Palm trees line all of the large streets and roads and you could be forgiven for thinking you weren't in China. However, what isn't different from the China I've seen is the incessant honking of horns, crazy driving and constant staring.
During the daytime, the city appears to be rather sleepy (apart from the roads) and boring with nothing much to do. People in the shops tend to be sleeping, watching tv or playing card games, mahjong or chess. Many buildings don't appear to be well looked after and just like much of China there is a lot of building work taking place. However, at night the city comes to life. Buildings explode into bright colours as there are lights all around them, streets become busy with shoppers, shops play their music loudly, roads become even busier, parents are out with their young children playing at parks, there are small open air concerts, some bbq's are open till 3 or 4 in the morning, night markets open up and there are fruit sellers all over the streets
We spent one of the days in a nearby town called Ganlanba. We were originally planning to cycle there, but 2 hours of cycling in hot weather and the risk of getting lost didn't sound too appealing. We got to the town by a 50minute bus ride over some terrible roads. The town looked run down with absolutely nothing to do. We went into a nearby supermarket to buy some water and a few other things and someone that worked there came over to help us. We had no idea what she was saying so she called a boy over to come and help us. He could speak English pretty well and we chatted with him for a while. His name was Deng Li Fu, 24 years old and had learnt most of his English by watching films and listening to music. Before we knew it he was offering/insisting to spend the day with us and show us round the small town. He went to ask his boss for the day off and then off we went.
We walked around the town, stopped in a few shops and he showed us the Mekong river and the small ferry that people can use to cross it. We then headed back to the supermarket he worked at to get some lunch (which he insisted on paying for) and went back to his small apartment to eat it. The supermarket paid for his apartment, however the lights haven't been working for nearly 2 weeks and not much light can get inside
Once we'd eaten, he called his boss up and asked her to drop us off at the Dai minority park, which she did and got is in for free. We walked around the large park for a few hours seeing a large temple, buying pineapple in a pot for 1rmb (10p) and watched some sort of dancing show. We also went to the water splashing square for the 15:00 demonstration of what they do during their water splashing festival in May (I think). Many people both old and young came out wearing colourful clothes and started walking around a large fountain. Once given the go ahead, they used small tubs and started throwing water everywhere and at each other (as you might have guessed). Once we ran out of things to do at the park Deng Li Fu took us to his friends restaurant and again insisted he'd pay not taking no for an answer. His friend had asked us to come over to their house for dinner one of the days but unfortunately we're not in Jinghong long enough.
Deng Li Fu took us to the bus station after dinner where he tried to buy us our tickets back to Jinghong, but we managed to pay before he did. We said our goodbyes and we were on our way back. This time squashed up in a minivan which had no leg or headroom. It was incredibly uncomfortable travelling on the bumpy roads yet somehow I managed to fall asleep and wacked my head off the window
We've also attempted to go to Mandian waterfall in the rainforest which the staff at Mekong Café helped us to sort out. It took us 1 hour by taxi to get there and the driver decided that he'd join us on the walk there as he hadn't been before. He acted as if he were our guide and spoke to locals asking for directions. If it weren't for him we would easily have got lost. The walk was supposed to take 1 hour there but it wasn't easy as it had rained recently. It was extremely muddy and slippery you had to grab onto plants to ensure you wouldn't slide down the hill. Not only that, but we were told to be on the lookout for spiders and snakes.
Once we had reached the river, we had to follow it upstream. This meant walking in the river, climbing over fallen trees and clambering over large rocks. We walked, and walked,and walked and seemed to be getting nowhere, having to be careful not to drop our bags into the water. Eventually, we decided to turn around and head back, and that's when it started tipping it down with rain making everything more slippery and dangerous. We all got back to the car drenched. Even though we never reached the waterfall, it was still an interesting and fun walk thanks mainly to the taxi driver!
Since being here, I've managed to have pineapple rice (my favourite dish) and it's also Dave's favourite dish now. We've been going to 1 particular restaurant quite a bit because its cheaper there. So, we're off to eat now and get ready for our sleeper bus. Quite glad to be leaving this stifling heat and humidity behind to somewhere much more bearable. Pineapple rice one last time!!!