As I return from a tea filled week, a bit exhausted and overwhelmed, it’s kind of nice to be back in Kunming again. During the past week I’ve experienced so much and met so many open, generous and genuine people. Again and again I thought the trip couldn’t get any better, only to meet someone new and be really touched by their kindness towards a couple of complete strangers arriving at their home.
There’s been far too much in the past week to be able to recount in a single post, but over the next few days I’ll attempt to compile my thoughts and convey these experiences as best I can.
Day 1 – Jinghong
Jinghong, being the largest of Xishuangbanna’s cities and the destination of our 10 hour overnight sleeper bus from Kunming, was our first stop on this trip, allowing us some time to relax and break our journey.
We arrived at dawn and checked into a friendly Korean guesthouse, waking the staff from their early morning slumber, showered, changed and emerged feeling slightly less exhausted. In the courtyard were several bamboo huts, one of which complete with full gongfu setup. It turns out the owner of the guesthouse buys and exports puerh to Korea. He invited us to join him, and a tasty tea session soon had us revived from our travels and prepared for the day ahead.
Since our bus to Yiwu didn’t leave until the following morning, we took the opportunity to rent a couple of bicycles and explore the surrounding countryside.
Compared to Kunming, Jinghong is a beautifully slow city. We checked out some Thai Buddhist temples and cycled to some outlying areas. The weather here was a big change from the cool Kunming climate and, as the midday heat increased, we took refuge in the shaded courtyard of a Dai restaurant, thirsty for some iced water. As we sat in the cool shade uneager to brave the sun again, quickly we decided to stay for some lunch. Despite the fact that we were their only customers, they happily fired up their barbeque and cooked some delicious vegetables and fish. We ate our fill and, as we arranged the chairs to enable us to lie in a more horizontal position, they noted our weariness and invited us inside to their sleeping mats and invited us to sleep for a midday siesta – perfect!
The remainder of the day, we spent exploring a little more of the town, drinking fruit juice in western style cafes and casually checking out some of the local tea shops with no intention of buying anything so early in our trip.