the ride up to yuanyang promised something different, as i saw more and more minority women walking along the side of the mountain road. here was the city built on top of a mountain that my father was telling me about! all ups and downs, why people would choose to settle this region is a mystery to me. in the distance i could see patches of rice terraces, a promise of things to come.

rice terrace preview

after the bus dropped me off at the yuanyang station, i walked around a bit before deciding on a hotel that looked the newest and therefore the cleanest. RMB$70 for a room (a bit pricey, but remember that my original budget per day for a room was RMB$160, it's still a bargain), i took it after the front desk woman showed it to me.

from my 3rd story window i have a great view of the street below, and the myriad of ethnic minorities walking around. although normally i feel guilty taking their photos, i have no qualms when it involves the mighty telephoto lens from a high perch. more minority action in the days to come!

i wandered the streets a little, getting a feel for the city. i saw a place to get my bubble ice tea, and a few internet cafes. yuanyang reminded me of litang, this outpost flavor, where you see a lot of people in ethnic garb, going about their daily lives, with not a care in the world as to the occasional gawking tourist.

dogs (for food, not pets)

meandering back to the hotel, i saw a man walking a pack of dogs. it was my first time seeing a dogwalker in china, and surprised to see it here in yuanyang. people must be too busy to walk their own dogs i thought to myself. seconds later i figured it out: these dogs weren't pets, these were livestocks. they were all the same size, and all tied together in that cruel way you treat animals you're going to slaughter later for food.

there was a restaurant attached to the hotel and i decided to eat there instead of trying to find a smaller place. more expensive perhaps, but probably also cleaner, and i'm starting to become a real stickler for hygiene (i had to take another dose of loperamide this morning). i went downstairs and told them i wanted dinner, and they brought me into the kitchen. big mistake. they were just sweeping, and i had to squint my eyes so i wouldn't get a clear look at the filth. the tiled floor was oily and sticky, as i quickly lost my appetite. i asked for a bowl of noodle, and when it arrived, i picked out two tiny bugs with my chopsticks. i ate about half before i couldn't take it anymore. don't know what kind of food i'm going to find in kunming, but i've had enough of dirty chinese food. from now on, it's either mcdonalds or KFC.

i went to go see the brilliant sunset and afterwards came across chen's house, the hotel i was supposed to stay at but i couldn't find it when i got off the bus. i chatted with the front desk girl, who offered me a free map of the local terraced rice paddies. she then got ahold of a family friend who offered me to take me sightseeing all day tomorrow for RMB$150, starting at 7am.

arrived in yuanyang this morning. if this place is famous for its stepped rice terraces, i didn't see any coming down from jianshui. the town itself is kind of sparse, golf carts roam the streets instead of normal buses, and it's incredibly hot here, as i basically try to walk in the shadow as often as possible. my RMB$50 hotel room across the street from the bus station isn't anything to write home about. it's liveable, but not like the luxury and cleanliness of past traffic hotels. the shower is basically a spigot coming out of the wall where a stream of hot water spits out.

yuanyang nansa monument

traveler's inn

i don't even think there are any taxis here in town; if i want to see the rice paddies, i have no choice but to use the service of a tourism agency and hire a minivan for the day. i'm going to see if i can see something today since it's still early.

update: after reading some online posting of other travelers who've been to yuanyang, i saw somebody wrote that yuanyang is actually two cities, an old and a new. i went to the travel agency and verified that i was in fact in nansha (AKA new city) and not in yuanyang (AKA old city). i pondered a bit and decided i'd check out of my nansa hotel right away and take a bus into yuanyang, where i should've been all along. the hotel manager was very understanding and only charged me for half the day as well as hailing a bus for me. the ride was 40 minutes up the mountain and only cost RMB$8 (actually, if i'd just stayed on the bus this morning, eventually it'd go to yuanyang as well).