Bliss in the Mist

Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
Trip End Feb 28, 2013

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Where I stayed
Jacky's Guest House
What I did
Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Thursday, January 19, 2012

Road to Puogaolaozhai, Duoyishu (多依树) Village, Yuanyang County, China

1) Kunming 昆明 to Jieshui  建水 (08:30 to 12:00) 4.5 hours 200km by public bus
2) Jieshui to Yuanyang Old City ( a.k.a.Xinjie) by public bus 25km 
3) Yuanyang to DuoYiShu-YuanYang, 元阳-多依树 by private van 27km

With a shock I awoke at 7:30. Oh Noooooooooo! What happened to my 6AM alarm? No time to find out. In record time we got dressed, packed, and sprinted down the stairs. Our bus departure is 8:30 and the girl on the front desk grasped our emergency and returned our deposit with lightning speed. We were very late to leave but she said, 'hurry, get a taxi quickly and you still have a chance." For 10 agonizing minutes we waved at every taxi that went by. At last, an empty one slowed to a halt. Dave was cool as a cucumber and I was willing myself to calm down... "accept the things that you cannot change…." I reminded myself over and over again. We knew the meter should read 40 RMB by the time we reached the station. A taxi meter has never moved so slowly. Our driver pushed through spots of congestion skillfully while driving slightly faster than the other traffic. Only at one point did she drive on the shoulder to get through a snarl. She was cool as a cucumber too.

At 8:29, we pulled up to the entrance of the huge bus station. Dave told me to run ahead for the bus and hold it. He would pay and get all the bags. I sprinted to the departure hall (I don't recall how many people I bowled over) and found our bus! "Don't worry, we will leave in 10 minutes", I was told. Now I was cool as a cucumber and went back to help Dave, with sweat pouring off him (no longer cool as a cucumber) dragging two backpacks and the extra bag off the luggage x-ray machine. "Relax”, I said grinning, “we made it in time.”

Behind us sat Brian from Colorado. He was with his Chinese girlfriend of two years, Katrina. They live in Chengdu. He studied photography and the famous Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara and has worked as a photo journalist in the past. He currently teaches Social Studies at a University in Chengdu. He was able to call our guesthouse and let them know we on our way and where we needed to be picked up. Since Jacky's Guesthouse does not have internet, none in the village yet, he had not received our email with our bus details. We were not able to get the direct bus due to the Chinese Spring Festival holiday.  It took us two other buses to get to the Yuanyang where we waited for Jackie to pick us up. About 10 minutes after we arrived in the small town of Yuanyang, Jacky showed up in his new van and picked the four of us up.  

As we drove, we spotted a woman dressed in an elaborate costume covered in silver bangles. She was a bride. We asked Jacky to stop and soon we were invited to the reception. 
The bride had ducked into another house and we waited at the reception enjoying the scene at the reception wereYi families in local dress were waiting for the bride and groom and the feast to begin. We were invited to stay but decided not to intrude any further.

Jacky stopped at a scenic viewpoints where we took in our first breathtaking views of the famous rice terraces. What a special place this is.

Jacky's guesthouse was full and he didn't have room for Brian and Katrina. We dropped them at another village along the way.

Six kilometers or so before DuoYiShu village, we passed through the market town that had delayed Jacky's arrival. I'm not certain of the name. It was just south of the Bada viewing platforms. The market was pretty much over but there was still enough action to warrant a stop. The nice thing about being in a private car is you call stop when you want (often). We were excited to be in Yuanyang County in the high mountains at 2800 meters (9186 feet).

Douyishu Pugaolao (village), where Jacky’s Guesthouse is located, is in the middle of the famous Yuanyang Rice Terraces. Duoyishu village looks newly rebuilt, with uniform mustard yellow homes with thatch roofs camouflaging corrugated metal roofs. And newly paved footpath winds between them. We parked at the new parking area and walked down through a maze of little walkways in the village for few hundred meters before arriving at Jacky’s Guesthouse.

The Guesthouse is located beautifully with a sprawling view over the water-filled rice terraces. We got settled in our ’room with a view’, showered and went to the dining room. Jacky’s mom was busy preparing some lovely dishes for us, cubed pork with peanuts and two plates of vegetables with tofu, all delicious, except for the unnecessary layer of oil on the stir-fry, a given in Chinese cuisine.

We briefly met Mindy and Kevin, fellow countrymen from Michigan. She retired from teaching and he from lawering. They are teaching English in Beijing for a year and are loving the experience. And then we met Dave a short tempered Scot who also is teaching English in China. His Scottish accent must be quite a riddle for his students. I had a hard time understanding him usually. He also 'retired' early but isn’t due to begin collecting a pension yet and needs his teaching salary. He is avid advanced amateur photographer who sells some of his work now and then. He is in heaven at Yuanyang terraces and local minority villages.
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