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. 

Modern bus
But it 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 probably they 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! 

Tropical climate
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. 

Expensive hotel
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.

No tourists
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. 


Impressive communications
Here, in 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 lovely place.

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.

Having lunch
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 knows what.


Nice but boring parks
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 and beautiful environment.

Jade shops
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 people. 


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 life at 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!








Dance shows
A couple off nights I visited different dance performances. The performance had a mixed touch of China, Thailand and the Pacific (or something). Very buddhistic.

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.

Magnificent performance
All the performance was very professional. They included both acrobatics and dancing. Gorgeous girls, colorful costumes, dramatic light effects and magic sceneries. 

On stage
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 all about, 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.

Beautiful sceneries.

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. 

Water Splashing Festival
The highlight was in the afternoon, it was the famous Water Splashing Festival. It's originally a 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!