Yuanyang Rice Terraces

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June 13th 2012
Published: June 13th 2012
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I was planning to leave Jianshui and catch a bus to Yuanyang straight after watching the NBA finals but I started talking to a Taiwanese girl, Carol at the hostel and before I knew it, it was almost 4pm. I caught a taxi to the bus station and then had to wait an hour before my bus left for the town of Nansha, at the base of the mountains which contain the rice terraces. The interesting trip through the mountains took about 2 and a half hours so I arrived in Nansha after 7.30pm and the sun was starting to set. I couldn't find any vans going up to Xinjie and the taxi drivers were asking too much so I decided to get a hotel for the night.

The following morning I got lucky as a bus to Xinjie was just about to leave. About half way up the mountain I asked the bus driver if the bus was going all the way to the village of Duoyishu, the place I intended to stay at, and he said no but a few minutes later another bus turned up and he motioned to me to hop on it. About an hour and a half later the bus dropped me off above the village where I walked down and finally found Sunny's guesthouse. It has a great location overlooking the ricefields and the rooms are okay but I thought the price for a single room was expensive so I opted for a 3 bed shared room for $6.50 a night, and it turned out that I had it to myself for the 3 nights I stayed there. Carol turned up later that day and there was an Israeli girl that I had met previously on the Yu Beng trek also staying at the guesthouse, so that only made 3 of us which made my stay very peaceful. The guesthouse overlooked the terraces and that first afternoon I went for a 2 hour walk down to a couple of villages before returning for dinner.

The following morning I woke up early to see if I could get any photos of the sunrise reflecting off the terraces but it was raining so I returned to bed for a short time and then got up for breakfast. The big drawcard for this place is the amazing photos that you can take in the wintertime of the sunrise and sunset in the waterfilled terraces. Although it is the start of summer now and most of the terraces are filled with green rice there are still a few empty terraces near the village where I presume you can still take good photos if the conditions are right. The 2 girls set off to a nearby village before lunch whilst it was raining and I decided to stay at the guesthouse until I had a break in the weather. A couple of hours later I got lucky so I walked the 5 kms along the road to the town of Sheng Cun where I met up with the girls. I wanted to keep walking and have a look at a few more terraces so after lunch the Israeli girl joined me. We walked about 5 kms along the road and then another 5 kms through the rice fields and some villages before finally thinking about turning back. On the way back when we got tired we flagged down a motorcycle/truck taxi to Sheng Cun and then hopped in a minvan for the trip back to Duoyishu, all for just over a dollar. The next day I was feeling pretty tired after walking about 20kms the previous day so I just took it easy and went for a short walk to a couple of villages in the afternoon. A few times whilst walking around the villages in this area I was invited into their homes to eat but unfortunately I declined each time due to the fact that I had just eaten not long before and I didn't want to seem rude if I didn't eat too much.

On Monday when I was leaving the lady at the guesthouse told me that it was market day in Sheng Cun and I shouldn't miss it. I caught a minivan after waiting about 15 minutes and when I arrived the village was buzzing with people, with almost every woman wearing traditional clothes. I decided straight away that I would spend a night here, so I quickly found a hotel and then enjoyed walking down the street taking photos. In the afternoon I relaxed in the dining room watching a movie on my computer and was joined by many many flies who obviously enjoyed the scraps of food around the room. I ended up eating 2 meals at the hotel and wasn't sick which was a surprise, but the staff were very friendly and I slept great. Tuesday morning I caught a minivan to the town of Xinjie and then hopped on the bus for a very slow trip back to Jianshui. I booked into the YHA again and then went out to grab some dumplings which I have been hanging out for. Today I watched the NBA finals and then went and got a haircut and shampoo for $1.50. I am writing this blog at the hostel just killing time before my 4.30pm overnight bus trip to Jinghong, my last destination in China before heading back into Laos.

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13th June 2012

Great blogs!
Looking forward to covering the same region as your last few blogs. Enjoyed Yunnan when we visited in 2005 - have just booked tickets for 8 weeks in South West China in February 2013. Hopefully I'll get to see the sunrise over the rice terraces.
14th June 2012

Hi Linese,
Thanks for reading my blogs. Although I wasn't in Yuanyang in the right season the place was still beautiful and has some great walks. I'm sure you will get to see the sunrise when you're there and don't forget to check out the monday market in Sheng Cun. I hope you enjoy the southwest of china as much as I have. Jason
13th June 2012

English or Chinese?
I would like to know if you travelled in those areas in China speaking English or Chinese? How did you manage that? I need that information. Thank you. Graciela from Argentina.
14th June 2012

Hi Grace
No, I don't speak any Chinese and I have found getting around quite easy. I highly recommend that you travel independently to get a better experience, also take a guidebook which has the Chinese characters for the towns you want to visit, and even better a small Chinese phrasebook with the characters. If you want to ask questions seek out young Chinese in their early 20's, preferably other tourists that generally come from the east and are well educated. I have found they are very helpful and get a kick out of practicing their english. You will also pick up some words along your travels that come in very handy. And above all, be confident and you will have no problems.
13th June 2012

Great photos! Yuanyang is a breathtaking place. look at the view, it's simply amazing. I've been to the Philippines and saw something just like this. But their terraces was plenty, and some are very steep which makes it look more fascinating. www.hctny.com/
14th June 2012

Love These Photos
Been to China so many times yet there is still so much to cover. I love all those human interest shots. The spontaneity in your travels make it truly a heat experience for you!
15th June 2012

Jason, The market shots are great...clothes of every colour...to think they do the exquisite embroidery as they sit around and chat...very eclectic. I picked up a pile of embroidery one trip in Yunnan...mainly Yi, Bai & Miao...makes insane cushions...if you have a small corner in your pack...worth considering.

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