9 October 2011

Got Rice? [Yuan Yang, China]

24 hours straight travel is not something that really phases me any more. So when the opportunity came up to get to the south of Yunnan in one shot I took it. First an overnight bus from Shangri-La to Kunming, followed by 2.5 hours on public transport between bus stations (not a fan of the Kunming transport system BTW), then (just making it with 5 minutes to spare) on another 6 hour bus to YuanYang.

There was actually a funny story on the overnight bus from Shangri-La. Khen and Ore both had tickets for the same bus... or so they thought. When they got on the bus they found people in their beds. Double checking their tickets they found that the agent had made a mistake and booked for the following night. Guts. The bus was pulling out and they were frantically trying to get off, so we exchanged a quick goodbye. It wasn't until the following morning when exiting the bus that I heard a familiar 'Good Morning'. It was Ore! Apparently there was two free beds and the driver let them stay on. Win!

I arrived in to YuanYang at about 4:30pm. Before the bus had even stopped a woman boarded trying to convince me to stay at her hotel. She did a pretty good job, because I actually did end up staying there. Main criteria - it was cheap. Y15! And in a perfect location for exploring the rice fields. I found out why it was so cheap soon after arriving... I was staying in what looked like an abandoned building, in a room that smelt like no one had entered in about ten years. Besides that, they really had no idea how to run a hotel - leaving the non-English speaking girl in charge, not doing simple things I had asked of them, having extremely crappy internet... Basically if you are self sufficient and need a cheap place to stay - check out Photographers Hotel. Otherwise, find anywhere else.

The first day I hired a bike and went off cycling for a couple of hours until sunset. YuanYang is breath-taking. Why? Rice terraces. Especially at this time of year when the rice is a bright golden yellow. The evening sun made the paddies look as though they were glowing. It was really spectacular. The only down-side was that the stupid Chinese Government (If you couldn't tell; I'm pretty sick of them) tries to charge Y60 to go to the lookout points. I refused to give them any more of my money so did not go, and it was beautiful enough from the road.

I tried to organise a car out to the terraces located about 15kms away through the hostel for sunrise the following morning, but they were absolutely hopeless. So I ended up just wandering around the area, which was still really beautiful. It was a little cloudy, but apparently the previous four days were hard rain, so I wasn't complaining.

I jumped on a bus from YuanYang to Hekou - a town just before the Vietnamese border. The further south we went the hotter it got, until I was sweating in my seat. It didn't help that the driver kept stopping; It felt as though we drove for 20 minutes then stopped for 30. Extremely frustrating. Next stop; Vietnam!

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