i met my driver this morning at 7am as he took me on a tour of terraced rice paddies. clouds covered the mountain top in the form of a thick fog, but soon disappeared with the warming sun. we passed a few paddies, then some more, then suddenly i was blown away my the sheer magnitude of terracing. it almost seems like a naturally occuring phenomenon, undulating bands of colors across the mountain landscape, until you real it's all man-made: no machines, some water buffaloes, but mostly just basic human muscle power, terraforming the landscape for hundreds of years. it isn't exactly rice either: it's probably some sort of oat. the driver told me that they there's so much of it at this point, the government basically pays the local natives to maintain the terraces since the country has no more need for the product.
common terrace flower
we were back in town before noon, taking a break before we'd meet up again, this time to see the sunset over the rice terraces. i walked around town a little bit, gasping at some of the things being sold at the market. earlier i asked my driver if he's ever tried dog meat. he said yes, and it's relatively expensive (sort of a delicacy), and it doesn't taste like any other meat. though curious, that's one line i'm not crossing. i bumped into my driver, who did me a favor and brought me downhill to the main bus station so i could ask about bus tickets to kunming (about a 7 hour trip, daily departures).
i had some rice noodles for lunch before returning to the hotel to relax. i fell asleep, waking up hours later to meet my driver downstairs. sunset over the rice terrace isn't that exciting, especially when the sun is slightly obscured by clouds. there was an japanese couple taking photos, and maybe a few chinese tourists, but for the most part the place was empty. a local hani woman said she'd bring me down to the terrace for RMB$5 - i told her not interested, but she was persistent to the point where i started to get angry. later her young daughter tried to get some money from me: "uncle, you can watch me dance, so i can have money to buy cake and a notebook," she kept repeating over and over again. i almost gave in, she was a cute little girl, but eventually she gave up as well.
i didn't bother to stick around for the sunset close to 8pm. my driver and i made our way back to town. tomorrow i may use him again, but it all depends on the weather. back at the hotel i asked if there are any motorcycles for rent here in yuanyang. they said no, and that every year, around autumn, during the peak tourist season, about a dozen people die because they don't know how to drive these mountain roads. that pretty much made up my mind: i'll probably stick around here in yuanyang another day before leaving for kunming thursday morning.
tonight, for dinner: ramen in my hotel room! i can't wait. final few weeks in china, i've gone all howard hughes and become a germophobe. i can't wait to get my hands on some KFC when i get to kunming, the capital of yunnan.
ramen with corn!