By far one of the most incredible travel experiences I've had so far is my short journey to Yuanyang. When I arrived at Kunming's south bus station I started thinking to myself, "What the f*** am I doing? I don't know where the f*** I'm going, I'm by myself, WTF???" So I was a little nervous to say the least.
As I expected, I was the only foreigner on the bus- they were mostly Yuanyang locals and they were all naturally very curious about me and as soon as they found out I could speak a little Chinese, the questions started coming.
"where are you from?", "what are you doing in China?", "you're here by yourself?". etc etc. But I didn't mind so much, they seemed like very friendly people.
On the six hour journey to Yuanyang, we stopped at a few places along the way. Mostly villages out in the middle of no where and those voices in my head keep saying the same thing- but I was determined not to let that voice control me. The scenery was so breathtaking and simply beautiful, my doubts about going alone soon faded away.
I exchanged QQ numbers with some
of the locals on the bus, and many of them got off at Nansha, the village at the bottom of the mountain before Xinjie. When some people got off, many others got on, and to the best of my luck an old Hani guy sat next to me who happened to be car sick. I stuck my head to the window on the extremely bumpy journey up to the top of the mountain watching the incredible scenery swiftly pass by, while my Hani friend next to me spat and hurled next to me the whole remainder of the journey.
When I hoped off the bus, I thought that I would still be scared but I wasn't- I was really excited and ready for adventure. I was apprached by a talk Chinese dude, who said he could take me to the Sunny guesthouse for 80yuan- which I thought was a bit expensive- but I was feeling quite vunerable because I really had no idea how to get to the guesthouse, so I eventually decided to use him.
He turned out to be a really nice guy, and even stopped at all the scenic spots along the way for me,
so I could take a look and take some pictures. The weather was just perfect here, and the fresh air really was cleansing for my soul.
When I say this is rural China, I mean it. There are pile of cow shit on the road everywhere, the local minority people, the Hani, all wear their traditional clothes, and the customs here and the spirit of the place still reflect what it would have been like here hundreds of years ago. Its so charming.
I was so glad that I paid this guy 80yuan to get to Sunny guesthouse in the end because I would have gotten lost for sure. The guesthouse is right it the middle of the village, and quite off the beaten track, so I would've found it impossible to find on my own. The lady there, Lili is simply georgous and so kind. We all ate dinner together in the tiny little Hani style kitchen- very basic facilities, but AWESOME healthy food. Later that night a few other travelers came back and shared their experiences from their day. It was really nice to speak to such lovely people and about their journeys in Yuanyang and
I woke early the next morning to see the sunrise from the rooftop of Sunny's and it was magical. At first you see the light from the sun from behind the mountains, softly painting the rice fields with a subtle blue colour. Then, as soon as you see the tiny orange ball of light peak through between the mountains, it just took my breath away. The rice fields turn a wonderous pink and blue colour and sparkle with life, as the sun begins to warm the day. As soon as I saw this, I knew it was going to be a good day.
I make a note to myself that I need to see more sunrises when I get back home.
With nothing more than a cup of tea in my belly, I set off to explore. I really had no idea what to expect or what would happen, I just trust in my instincts and walk. I decide to first walk towards AiCun, and see the fields from there. It is such a lovely village, and little to my knowledge I would return there soon with my new friends for dinner. After wandering through
the village and being greeting by little Hani children saying "HELLO!!" I decide to turn around and head towards Bada. It started to get rather hot and this stage and already I was getting puffed.
All of a sudden I was stopped by a lovely Chinese couple on the side of the road and they asked if I needed a ride- which I was very grateful for. The couple were Kunming locals and were extremely friendly- 'hen reqing'! They were singing Chinese songs in the car and laughing at small jokes that would make at each other. They even explained the meaning of the songs to me in Chinese, but unfortunately I couldn't understand all of what they were saying- but I did pick up a little bit. Before I knew it, I was asked to sing the Australian National Anthem for them! So; there I was in rural China in the back of some car, singing the Australian National Anthem! I never would have thought I'd be doing that today. Then; they asked me to explain the meaning in Chinese and I had no idea! My Chinese really isn't that great, and when I got to 'We've wealth
for toil", I just said we're really rich, "Women hen dou qian". Lol :P hey- you try and translate that for me!
They then dropped me off at Xinjie, and after bidding farewell to them and beign grateful for their kindness I started exploring the village. It is quite rugged and dirty, with piles of rubblish in every corner, its also very dusty, but somehow the houses seem to gleam yellow. Not really sure what I was doing there I then decided to catch a bus to LaohuZui, which knew I had never been there before, so I waved down a van that was heading there, and after 2 hours of waiting for other people to cram into the van, including 2 chickens, we set off.
I finally arrived in Laohuzui, and I couldn't believe that they were charging 30yuan for the viewing platform. But this old Hani lady apprached me with a cheeky grin on her face and she said to me that she could take me to another area for only 10yuan. Again, feeling vunerable and a bit lost, I agreed. We walked through another village and past a school on the way. The walk was
really steep, and I was dreading coming back up that way on the way back. We crossed over rivers, and walked though corn fields and walked along steep dirt tracks and eventually we reached a beautiful spot and the hard walk was worht every bit of the effort. The old Hani lady was so excited when we got there she started explaining everything to me about the villages, who lives there, etc. We ended up having a lovely chat right there on that moutain- she was a really lovely person.
She told me that she owned a shop and made traditional Hani noodles, and at this stage I was just starving so I agreed to go back to her place to eat some noodles. When we began the journey back up to the road, she had to duck away and go to the toilet, which means just going into the fields and squatting. Yeah! This is rural China 😊
She also told me that she sewed all of her clothes herself! Whcih I thought was really cool. I was so exhausted when we reached the top- I was happy to be getting some substinance. Her house was very
small and basic, and she also had a little shop beside it- but you know what, these people are awesome, the live on not very much, but the location has million; if not billion dollar views- and its not as though they go hungry. Seeing this sort of life in action really challenges the western concept of 'poverty', because although these houses were dirty and small- oly very basic, the people here live happily with full bellies and a magnificent view.
She then agreed to wave me down a van again to get me back home to douyishu, because I was really tired and was keen for a nap, this was about 4pm. While we waited, she showed me how to sew to PaKa pattern on the back of her costume, and she even let me dew for a bit! It was really cool. As it was quite late, I was getting worried that maybe there weren't any cars coming and we waited an hour and a half but still no car. I was really worried about what to do- but then, like a god send, I saw another foreigner on the other side of the road. I walked
over and greeted him and explained my situation, and he said that it was fine for me to go back with him. He was also quite a nice guy, an expact from Kunming. He told me about a crazy place called Ruli on the China/Burma boarder- sounded really cool.
They couldn't take me all the way back to Douyishu, as it was too far away, so we ,asked a van going that way if they could drop me off. They said no problem, so I was very grateful to that man for helping me and so I grabbed my stuff and went into the other van. There was two young Hani guys in the front seats and they could speak a little english and fluent Chinese so I was really happy! We just clicked, we talked about music, and Australia and all sorts of things- they were really great guys. When my stop came, before I got out of the van, they offered me to have dinner at there place.
And I thought; I don't think I'll ever have another opportunity to eat with a local Hani family and my impression of this place so far had been
awesome- so with some impulsivity but with good instincts, I agreed. It turned out that they lived in AiCun, and when we arrived at there place, I'll never forget- they said in english, "This is my home". It was a tiny dirty broken old concrete house, with one simple light hanging in the kitchen, and a basic lounge area with, remarkably, a TV and an old couch. However, once you stepped on the balcony outside, the view was amazing. While one of them started cooking dinner, the other guy offered to take me for a walk around the rice fields. It was a lovely walk, and you could just see the sun setting behind the mountains in the west. We talked aobut the scenery, about how it was so beautiful and we stood there in silence for a while, allowing me to take in all that had happened that day.
We walked back home and sat down for dinner. Their family consisted of a dad, and mum who couldn't speak chinese, I spoke chinese to her, but she just giggled and patted me on the shoulder. We ate some really interesting things including a local Hani dish made up
of small fish, mint and chilli. We also had fried eggs, some shredded potato, and some green vegetables that we served in a large green bucket. It was really delicious!
After dinner I said goodbye to the family, and we stepped outside. I assumed they woudl take me back in the car, but as soonas I heard the word "Moto che", I knew I was in for another adventure.
There I was in the middle of rural china, sitting snug between to local Hani guys on the back of a motocyle ridding underneath a stary sky. We set off and the guys would yell, "YEOW-A!" as we flew past other small houses on the way. They asked em if I felt scared, and I said I was a little- and the said don't be scared, its okay.
When I was on the back on that motocycle I thought to myself; yeah- this is living- this is the shit! It was awesome.
After arriving back at the guesthouse, I exchagned QQ numbers with the guys and phone numbers, I hope that we will stay in contact.
I arrived home tired and sore, but full of wonderful
memories of this place and experiences I shall never forget.
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