The rice terraces that we visited in Yunnan province are hundreds of years old and they are stunning. The place we stayed was right-slap-bang in the middle of them so it was easy for us to take local buses out to the villages where there were great views to be had over the green, golden, red rice terraces. Or, we could just stay put and view the scenery from our room, which we did quite a lot.
The one challenge though was that although there seemed to be quite a few tourists visiting the area (Chinese as well as overseas visitors), the infrastructure didn’t seem set up for tourists. We were pretty much forced to eat at the guest house we stayed at as there were no other places to eat nearby. Unfortunately our host couldn’t cook very well, which is hard to believe here in China because the food, even in the most simple places, is usually fantastic. Fruit and vegetables also didn’t seem to be very abundant in the area. It’s a long way from the abundance of fresh food there seemed to be in Beijing.
We both had fairly bad head colds while at the rice terraces too, so we’ve come back to Kunming a bit early instead of heading deeper into Yunnan. We figured it would be better to come back to the city, take it easy and eat well.
In Kunming we’re staying beside the university, which is working well for us. There are lots of cheap cafes and restaurants close by and even some Indian curry houses which have satisfied some cravings. I’ve been very excited about our granola and yogurt breakfasts too because I miss fibre quite a lot.
So we had a plan. We were going to take an 8 hour bus ride to the Yuanyang rice terraces, hang out there for a while and then take some back road buses on into the Xishuanbanna region in the south of the Yunnan province. It sounded easy enough and it had the potential to be real interesting.
When we woke up on the morning of departure feeling a bit sick we wondered if we should still go ahead with it. We reasoned that surely nothing could be much easier than sitting on a bus. We like sitting on a bus and looking out the window – it’d be a great way to relax and get over our head colds.
Oh how wrong we were! Our 8 hour bus ride lasted for more like 12 hours. It was full of smokers but there were only 4 windows – two at the front of the bus to blow the smoke towards us and two at the back to let the exhaust in. Lucky for us, the bus driver took it upon himself to keep us entertained with some classic Chinese pop music turned up just loud enough for the bus speakers to not quite cope. All of this helped our headaches no end – as you can probably imagine. On top of all this, it was a bumpy ride with plenty of swerves and a whole lot of horn. We did eventually arrive but with compounded head colds and a pretty serious case of road sickness. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt that sick and wiped out.
It wasn’t all bad – well it certainly could have been worse. When we arrived Susan did some fairly swift negotiating and managed to get us into a nice clean hotel a little out of town with a really nice view of a rice terrace – right from our window. It was a great place to recover – well apart from the food that is… We got a chance to have a good look around the villages and rice terraces in the Yuanyang area without really having to do all that much and so we recovered nicely.
We decided that more bumpy bus rides would probably be pushing our luck so we’ve come back to Kunming for a few days instead. More time to take it easy for a while…