|After I left the Lijiang village up in the west mountain
of Yunnan, I was really tired of
tourists and souvenir vendors. Therefore I decided to make a detour to a less
touristy region. Still in Yunnan, I vent to a region called
Xishuangbanna in the most
southern part of China. The "Banna" lies close to the border of Laos and
Myanmar, and several minorities lives there.
A bumpy ride
The central town in
"Banna" is Jinghong. I got there by
sleeper bus as there are no train connection down there. The 15 hour bus
tour was quite a bumpy ride
up on winding roads
through the hilly landscape.
was a modern bus with DVD movie and air condition. And it was a clean, no smoking, and
you were not allowed to carry your shoes inside the bus. Maybe a kind of
Buddhist routine but
just wanted to keep the bus clean. I don't know.
A new highway
At the time for my travel they were building a big
highway straight through the landscape with big bridges and tunnels. Probably this trip will be down
to 10 hours within short.
Big road constructions sights in the rainforest.
The Mekong River at Jinghong.
A different place
It's quite a different China you meet
down here. It's more thai-ish and there's a strong buddhistic feeling around. The people looks different, the pace is different and the temples are
actually not in the ordinary Ming style! Wow, that's a surprise!
Also the climate is different, really hot, almost tropical,
maybe something like Florida. And the hilly countryside is covered with rainforest. Besides,
they have pineapples and strange fruits growing everywhere. The
pineapples are really delicious, very sweet and juicy, almost like the African. Well not
really, but almost.
Jinghong is situated at the the shore of the Mekong river, the long river
that continues down through Laos and Cambodia. In the neighborhood you
will find many small farmer villages and a lot of minority groups.
Once I got there I choose the wrong hotel. They had no dorm beds and the
double was quite expensive, 150 Yuan. Anyway, nice beds, hot water, AC, bathtub and
palms outside the window. So, what else do you want? I had my first bath
in two month here. My feet loved it.
The local market street.
Jinghong is quite a small Chinese town
and you easily cross it by bike, or even by foot. It's not a touristy
place. They do have some Chinese tourist but no westerners and no English
spoken. Also there are no souvenir shops around, just the local market where you
can buy chili, newly slaughted pigs
or a sack of rice.
the middle of the rainforest, my Swedish cell phone worked perfectly, as
well as the ATM machine. And they had a well working Internet bar at 2
Yuan per hour. As I said, what more do you want! This was really a
Spicy noodle soup
Every morning I had breakfast on the sideway at an outdoor restaurant.
Maybe paid 2-3 Yuan for the noodle soup with lot of chili. Not really
the ordinary western way to begin the day. But this is usually what you
get here in the south.
At lunch and dinner time you came across several buffets with a
impressive amount of dishes. Meats and vegetables in all kinds of tasty
preparations. You picked your favorites and paid according to what you
ate. I really miss those places.
A minority among minorities
I met a funny guy at at the market place. He came from Myanmar, was a Muslim and didn't speak
Chinese! So he had a rough life, being a minority among minorities and without
knowing the language. But instead, he spoke very good English and I think he was
just happy to find someone to talk to. He liked sport and asked me a lot about the
Swedish soccer players, specially about Slatan Ibrahemowic.
Actually he knew more about Swedish soccer than me!
My favorite outdoor breakfast kitchen in Jinghong.
A proud restaurant owner and his wife
Spices, dried mushrooms, and who
|Nice but boring
Jinghong has a couple
of touristy parks. A tropical garden with exotic plants and a garden
with traditional medical herbs. There are no English labels in the parks and over all it's not
necessary to go there. But it's a way to kill a couple of hours in a quiet
They also have some big official jade shops with bracelets and jewelries.
Not very cheap and maybe not the kind of jewelries meant for the western
girls. But here, jade makes a magical impression on the Chinese woman.
View at the Tropical Plant Garden.
View over the rainforest in Xishuangbanna.
|At the rainforest
To visit the rainforest, I did what you shouldn't do, went on a organized tourist
tour. The most famous place to enter the rainforest is at the village Sanchahe.
At the entrance they have a mini zoo with birds, small animals and a butterfly tent.
Not very exiting, but they also had nice dance performances by minority
Jinuo people giving a drum performance at Sanchahe.
|In the air
A lift then took you over the rain forest for about 30 minutes. Strangely, they played loud popular music here in the
middle of the forest. Totally natural for a Chinese though. After the lift
had landed we did a one hour walk back through the
dense vegetation. On broad paths that is.
It was possible to rent a small
hut during the night, to
see elephants or other wild animal. Perhaps a good choice because we didn't see any wild
all. Probably the animals was scared away by the music and the guides
with megaphones. Finally we visited an elephant show where those big animals were playing soccer and
danced. Quite stupid show!
A couple off nights I visited different dance performances. The
a mixed touch of China, Thailand and the Pacific (or something). Very
In front of the dance halls you had to do some folkdance and a
rhythmic exercise where you stepped in between two stroking bamboo rods
without getting your feet jammed.
All the performance was very professional. They included both acrobatics and
dancing. Gorgeous girls, colorful costumes, dramatic light effects and magic
One of the nights I ended up on
the stage in some sort of public competition. Together with my competitors
and the dancing
girls we had to perform same funny tasks. I never really understand what it was
but anyway, I won! Probably just because I was the Laowai, "the
respected foreigner". To show my gratitude, I had to sing a Swedish
song in return.
After the show everyone bought a candle on a small plate, went down to the
riverside, placed it in the water and watched it sail away in the night. Very
romantic, just the girlfriend missing.
Dancing in between the bamboo rods.
Me, performing at Manting Park in Jinghong
At the countryside
I tried to get around on the countryside by bike for a day, but it was
very hot outside and
besides, I got lost. So the other day I took the local bus to a nearby
village, Ganlanba (aka Menghan). It was a one hour ride on small, but well kept,
winding roads along the Mekong river.
Ganlanba tourist park
At Ganlanba, I soon ended up in another tourist park. Not exactly what I
planned but this is typical in China. There were a lot of Chinese
tourists, never understand where
they all came from. The park was run by the Dai people and it was
possible to visit their
traditional homes and buy souvenirs from them.
was in the afternoon, it was the famous Water Splashing Festival. It's originally
spring festival performed once a year, but today they run it daily to satisfy
the tourists. At the festival you could swap to traditional cloth that was
for rent, and then people lined up along a big pond. I kept a safe
distance. Then, on a given sign, everyone started
to through water at each other until they were totally soaking wet. Mental!