2/12/2007 to 2/21/2007 | China , Yunnan

Leaving Yuanyang

pdf version of this post with pictures

As I prepare to leave Yuanyang behind me I must say I haven’t been disappointed.  It was a great place to start out my trip.  It was my first destination, the previous places really not being more of transit points.  It’s been a little over a week and 600 pictures.  And I was showing restraint.  It makes it hard to choose a few pictures to try and give an idea for the place.  Its not just a few isolated places that have incredible views, the area stretches for miles and with each break in the trees or bamboo there is more than likely an amazing view.   My last day in Yuanyang couldn’t have had a more fitting end.  I walked about two and a half hours out of town to a village perched on an expanse of terraces below.  The view was enough on its own to make it a nice last day in Yuanyang but in addition I was about to get a chance to sample the local hospitality.  As I was about to head back to Yuanyang I was invited in for dinner at by a woman in the village.  Not wanting to pass up some home cooked village food I accepted despite knowing that I would probably be walking back to Yuanyang in the dark by flashlight.  Fortunately I had walked the roads and paths enough over the past eight days that I was not too concerned about finding my way back even in the dark.  I was ushered in and motioned to sit down on the couch, which was impressive since the other houses I had been in just had stools or small benches. Granted it wasn’t the nicest couch but the family had some money if not indoor plumbing and sewage.  The spread was pretty impressive as well fish, beef, pork and a variety of vegetable and tofu dishes.  I sat down to eat with her, an even older one-toothed woman who I assumed was her mother, and my hostess’s kids.  Of course no meal is complete without the requisite bi-jo, the previously mentioned rice whiskey.  At first I was alarmed when she poured a clear liquid from a gasoline container into the rice bowl in front of me, fearing it was village water and with it a future day spent on the toilet.  I was already taking that gamble with the food no need to make it a certainty though.  I whiffed the View from village I visited on my last day in Yuanyang  pungent odor of alcohol rising from the bowl and realized it was a different sort of danger home brewed bi-jo.  I was hesitant at first but the old one tooth woman was putting it down like water and she didn’t appear to be blind so not wanting to insult my guest I indulged.  I choked down the first few sips and like all alcohol it gets easier to drink with subsequent sips.  I still didn’t come close to drinking as much as the old one-toothed woman; she could hold her bi-jo.  Maybe she used it to digest her food, because I have no idea how she chewed.  I finally got my hostess to stop filling my glass, or rather bowl, explaining in gestures  that I had to walk back to Yuanyang.  She finally succumbed to my persistent boo-yao shee-shee (I don’t want, thank you)  and I started my walk back.  I had only made it to the next village when I was detoured by a bunch of villagers who were swinging on large bamboo swing they had constructed over the road.  They motioned for me to have a try.  I was skeptical that the structure would hold my weight, which was probably twice as much as any of them, but my recent intake of bi-jo convinced me to ignore my skepticism and give it a try.  It held surprisingly and the onlookers were all amused by the big white foreigner on the swing.  I was rewarded with one final sunset over the terraces before finally making it back to my hotel by flashlight.

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