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Published: March 4th 2013
Day 2 in Kaili
It had rained heavily during the night but day two of our trip around the Kaili dawned clear but it was very cold as we headed out to meet Mr Wee. Today we were driving to the remote village of Fanpai - over two hours drive from Kaili. For the first forty minutes or so we were never far away from the huge highway towering above us until eventually we moved further inland passing tiny villages tucked into valleys before we stopped in a very muddy street in a small town full of newly built cement block, white tile covered buildings where Mr Wee suggested that we stocked up on something for lunch as there would be no food available in Fanpai. Thankfully we had already done so the previous evening as that little shop didn't have a lot ofchoice - Pre packaged chicken feet, packaged boiled eggs, sweet biscuits or other packaged dry food, origin unknown...
We then drove up into the mountains for the next hour through glorious countryside with very deep valleys lined with terraces. We saw hardly anybody other then a few farm workers. We found really a beautiful spot high
up in the mountain and spread some more of David's ashes into the valley below. Fanpai is a Miao village of approximately 1000 people - and once again we had a wonderful couple of hours exploring the village and fields nearby. At one stage we were walking along a narrow stone footpath in the fields nearby when a couple returning from work approached us. I asked if I could take the lady's photo and after agreeing to allow me her husband insisted she adjusted her headscarf before I photographed her. He was very proud of her.
The women wear there hair again on top of their heads but cover it with an indigo dyed scarf draped around their top knot and then flopped over their forehead. Tassels from the end of the woven strip of ribbon which decorate the scarf then drop on top of their forehead. Their costumes are dark indigo trousers and tunics which I guess during festivals have the elaborate jewellery and embroidered fabric pieces placed on top. It was actually a large village with narrow paths and slippery stone steps crisscross sing up and down the mountain between and around all the tall wooden houses.
The houses were all three storied houses, many with animals underneath though unlike the previous days village the animals had a lot more space to move around in. They all had rail around the top story which was really a narrow verandah - the railings were actually backs of benches which circled the houses. Some of the houses were totally open on the top floor instead of having walls - a great place to dry clothes and food. T
he local people were all happy to see us and greeted us with smiles - particularly two elderly ladies I met in the town square - they were as fascinated with me as I was with them. Both had gorgeous smiles. A picnic in the damp stone paved square at the base of the village allowed us to enjoy some more views of the houses tumbling down the hill above us before we walked back through the big village gates to meet Mr Wee. All villages have squares used as meeting places - this one also had a small wind and rain bridge- and fancy gates under which you enter the village. As we were driving back down the mountain
Mr Wee asked if he could stop and give three men walking down a lift. We agreed of course - they had little chance of catching a us as we had seen no other transport since leaving the base of the mountain. We found out later he is not supposed to give people lifts as it contravenes his guiding/driving licence. It must have felt comfortable enough to do it in that quiet area though. The three men were visiting from another province and were on the search for a fighting bull they had heard was for sale in that area. We dropped them on the edge of the road before we reached the base of the mountain.
On the way home we spent half an hour watching an entertaining dragon dance being performed in one of the tiny villages we passed. I enjoyed watching the faces of the people watching the dance more than the actual dancers dressed in their vibrant red and yellow costumes. They seemed to be performing at a family party - there was a small group of people watching them. At a definite distance apart another small group of people (neighbours i guess) were also
perched on their tiny low wooden stools watching the dancers. Almost as if they hadn't been invited to join in!
Nearby we also watched a group of young men recovering the long body of last years festival dragon with red silk - in preparation for yet another festival being held in the region shortly. We also had the pleasure of watching a really beautiful young bride, accompanied by all the women in the family, walk to her wedding. She was wearing a very heavily embroidered velvet traditional costume which was elaborately trimmed with silver pieces. Around her neck she had a heavy necklace, she was crowned in silver and walking carefully along the rough road in very high stiletto boots. She also carried a shoulder pole from which hung two wooden buckets, one filled with eggs, the other rice - fertility symbols for her future life as a married woman.
That evening, by accident, we stumbled upon a restaurant recommended in our guide book and had a decent meal. We had searched for it when we first arrived but something really strange happens to our radar in Chinese cities and despite maps with some English we always seem
to look for places in totally the opposite direction to where they actually are. We certainly knew where we would be dining for the next couple of nights - and it was only a block from our beds!
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