was there hot water this morning? no! but i didn't have time to complain, i was on a mission to return to damenglong, to visit the famous (at least it's photogenic) manfeilong temple. i paid for another night's stay then went next door to the bus station to grab the next bus to damenglong.
road to damenglong
since i'd been there just a few days ago, memories of the poor road conditions were still fresh in my mind. i braced myself for suffering. and suffer i did! 3 hours of non-stop ass-pounding. i closed my eyes and imagined a bruise the size and shape of china. we had a backseat driver this time, a man who complained to the driver that he should drive a little more carefully. "i have 40 years of driving experience!" the driver exclaimed, raising 4 fingers. "if you don't like my driving," he continued in chinese, "you can get off the bus!" this shut the man up, who pretended to be asleep instead of facing the humiliation. the bus vibrated so badly that at one point one of the panes of plexiglass fell out of its frame, shattering on the side of the road. "the window fell out!" people in the back of the bus screamed. the driver looked back with a look that said "oops" but kept on driving, too late to save the window. instead of getting off at damenglong and walking 2km back to the temple, i saw the temple entrance on the side of the road and shouted, "getting off!"
manfeilong town entrance
it was early afternoon and i still didn't have dinner yet, so i ate a little something from a village street vendor , some cold rice noodles. it was pretty good but not quite filling, as i became hungry again so afterwards.
manfeilong temple golden lion
rubber tree saplings
one reason why the dai minority here in jinghong are much richer than the average chinese is because they've tapped into the rubber production market. each household, with its plantation of rubber trees, can earn enough money to live in dai style mansions, which i saw a lot of at the manfeilong village.
rubber tree plantation
manfeilong ta stairway
view from manfeilong ta
the weather when i left jinghong was cloudy but by the time i got to the damenglong area 3 hours later, it'd cleared up, with a brilliant blue sky punctuated by puffy white clouds. this made for great photo taking, as i managed to finally see the manfeilong temple. i didn't even have to pay, since whoever in charge was obviously taking an extended siesta. there was nobody else at the temple, other than a man who looked like he might be charge, but didn't flag me down to pay the admission when he saw me, instead sitting on some steps and staring off into the village down below. it was a pretty nice place, and the light breeze would occasionally sound the chimes adorning the spires of the temple.
return trip landscape
back out on the road, i figured i'd have to walk back to damenglong to take the bus, but a return bus to jinghong came down the road a few minutes later. i flagged it down, hopped on, and 4 ass-pounding hours later, i arrived in jinghong around 7:30pm, slightly bow-legged, but happy to be back in the city.
after a HOT shower, i went back out to find some dinner. i visited a dai restaurant but they said most of their food were already sold out. so i went next door to a smaller place that served only rice noodles. i had a big bowl, perhaps the most delicious rice noodles in all of jinghong. i told the manager, who was delighted, after having to deal with a chinese customer who was so disgusted with the way the natives were preparing the noodles, he decided to cook it himself (he sounded like he was from beijing).
was my evening over? by no means! i ran into two americans, who were confronting their chinese stalker. neither of them spoke the other parties language, so i became their interpreter. apparently the chinese man is a talent agent for a local TV broadcast station, looking for a foreign face to be the host of a travel program based in jinghong. it involved a week of filming, and basically he wanted the americans to go around visiting famous sites in xishuangbanna and get their reaction. they could just talk in english, but later subtitles would be added. i was translating all this, but it seemed too good to be true, and likewise the americans thought so as well. i asked for a business card which he didn't have, so i became more suspicious. he seemed like a nice enough fellow, but without credentials, the deal was off. after the man left, i chatted with the americans briefly (nathan and kim from oregon). they'd just arrived in china from thailand/laos, and was planning on spending a month in china (for the very first time), with no preset destinations other than kunming. i gave them some china travel advice, then left them to come visit the internet cafe.