Monday, February 27, 2012

Lushi Ancient Town

The 8:00AM 84km bus ride to Lushi started out poorly. It was obvious we were yet again on a small bus with chain smokers and then just outside the station, a woman in hip waders loaded 3 big bags of live fish into the aisle of the bus and one into the side luggage compartment. On the bright side our bags were not in the luggage compartment or in the aisle as they might have been, but stowed behind the driver's seat.

From there, things got better. The bags of fish did not smell or leak. The drive northeast to Lushi was quite scenic featured terraces of green-gold wheat and another crossing of the Mekong. When the driver saw I had my camera out, he stopped on both sides of the new bridge so I could take photos. Sweet. The Mekong is dammed here and the resulting lake is not so scenic, although the gorge is quite deep.

Arriving in Lushi, things briefly took a turn for the worse. We had planned to walk the Tea Horse Trail in the afternoon, spend the night, check out Lushi Town the next morning and take the 1PM bus back to Fengqing. However the 1PM bus was full so we had to buy tickets on the 8AM bus and cram all our activities into one day. But, at the "recommended" hotel in town we scored a nice clean room with a view overlooking Lushi, and we were out hiking the Tea Horse Trail south-bound by 11:00.

We walked south, mostly uphill, for 3 hours to Tangfang Village at 2200 meters high, a so-called "stone village". Typical older Yunnan villages have courtyard buildings with tile roofs and walls made of mud bricks or fired clay bricks. However, the buildings in Tangfang have slate roofs and walls made of local stone. The slate roofs are really cool as the slabs of slate are irregular in shape.

Along the road the we had some great views over the terraces of flowering peas, green fava beans, and golden wheat; saw several "loaded" horses and donkeys, and met many friendly locals who said to us "sit for a rest", "take some water", or "walk slowly" as we passed by.

We turned around at 2PM after taking many photos of Tangfang village and arrived back in Lushi at 4:45 or so with plenty of daylight left to check out old Lushi which is considered to be one of the three last "untouched" old towns China. Untouched by tourism that's true. And there are hardly any new buildings in the old town where folks still have their stables next to or under their houses, and cook and heat with firewood. Running water? Not sure. But of course there is electricity and cell phones.

Finally, dinner at a restaurant that cooks with wood delivered by pack animals.

In case you just couldn't picture loading a bag of fish onto a bus.
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Bridge over the Mekong with a view down the new lake.
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Pack animals taking goods into Lushi.
Lushi, Yunnan, China

Just south of Lushi, this guy was watering his pigs. Hmmm.
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House with slate roof.
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Sun-Ling on the Tea Horse Trail.
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One of the courtyard stone houses on the edge of Tangfang.
Tangfang, Yunnan, China

Stonehouse in Tangfang wth beehives - the round things.
Tangfang, Yunnan, China

John standing on the Tea Horse Trail which goes right through the middle of Tangfang Village.
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Tangfang.
Tangfang, Yunnan, China

Tangfang.
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Woman wth basket of leaves and sticks - kindling.
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Tea Horse Trail just south of Fangtang heading towards the Mekong.
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View of Lushi from the road in front of our hotel. Our room had bascially the same view but with a bunch of electrical wires.
Lushi, Yunnan, China

Woman with kindling "headed" down Lushi's mainstreet.
Main Street - Lushi, Yunnan, China

Main street, Lushi.
Main Street - Old Town - Lushi, Yunnan, China

Stable underneath a house in downtown Lushi.
Stables - Old Town - Lushi, Yunnan, China

Making friends with the locals.
Kids - Lushi, Yunnan, China

Lushi.
Old Town - Lushi, Yunnan, China

Weighing the firewood delivery.
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fengqing

After a quick no-hassle bus ride from Lincang to Fengqing, if you ignore the clouds of cigarette smoke, it took an hour to find a decent hotel. Bonus: the nearby clock tower chimes The East Is Red every morning at 7:00.

Once installed, we set out to buy onward bus tickets and to visit the Taoist Temple, Mosque and Confucius Temple.

The Taoist Temple was uninspiring although it did feature a couple of nuns (I think).

The deserted Mosque surprised us with its domes and graceful lines.

And the Confucius Temple, with its 3 gates, flowers, pool, and four pavilions easily surpassed our expectations. Not to mention the helpful administrator who gave us some good information on hiking the Tea Horse Trail in Lushi, his hometown.

Nun at the Taoist Temple.,
Nun - Taoist TempleConfucius Temple - Fengqing, Yunnan, China

The Confucius Temple is on a hill with the gates at the bottom and successive pavilions going up the hill.
Confucius Temple - Fengqing, Yunnan, China

Pavilion with a statue of the man himself.
Confucius Temple - Fengqing, Yunnan, China

The Observatory at the top of the hill.
Confucius Temple - Fengqing, Yunnan, China

The Mosque.
Mosque - Fengqing, Yunnan, China

And a modernist doorway in the Old Town.
Old Town - Fengqing, Yunnan, China

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Five Religions of Lincang

After some Internet studying, Sun-Ling determined that Lincang, Yunnan, China was home to at least 5 different religions. So we set out to find all the various places of worship and succeeded: Two Protestant Churches, the Muslim Mosque, four Taoist Temples, two Mahayana Buddhist Temples, and two Theravada Buddhist Temples. But no Confucius Temple? Stay tuned.

In the afternoon we strolled out the 7 kilometers or so to the Ling Shan temple and Wen Bi Pagoda. What a nice pagoda. Built in 1906 and set atop a hill in the middle of a pine forest.

Theravada Temple with children and elephants.
Theravada Buddhist Temple - Lincang, Yunnan, China

The Buddha image inside the Theravada Temple.
Theravada Buddhist Temple - Lincang, Yunnan, China

Another Theravada Temple.
Theravada Buddhist Temple - Lincang, Yunnan, China

A pavilion at a Taoist Temple in the city center.
Taoist Temple - Lincang, Yunnan, China

The Mosque is located off a narrow lane. I could not get a good shot of the green dome but the nice folks at the mosque opened the prayer room so we could take a look.
Mosque - Lincang, Yunnan, China

Mahayana Buddhist Temple.
Mahayana Buddhist Temple - Lincang, Yunnan, China

This Protestant Church was built in 2004; actually converted from a rice granary said the pastor.
Protestant Church - Lincang, Yunnan, China

Ling Shan Taoist Temple just outside Lincang.
Taoist Temple - Lincang, Yunnan, China

Wen Bi Ta - Pagoda in the pines.
Eastern Pagoda - Lincang, Yunnan, China

Bonus photo. John with Giant Cabbage, Zhou Enlai and Chairman Mao.
John with Giant Cabbage, Zhou, and Mao - Lincang, Yunnan, China

And a shot inside Lincang's well maintained circa 1960's cinema.
Cinema - Lincang, Yunnan, China

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Typical Travel Day

Hopped on the bus from Ninger to Jinggu at 9AM and a pleasant 2 hrs later we arrived 100 kilometers down the road in Jinggu. However, the next onward bus to Lincang, our final destination for the day, was not until 2PM, so we had 3 hours to kill.

Luckily SL had studied Jinggu so we walked out to the nearby Theravada Buddhist Temple, a 20 minute walk, ignoring the advice of the policeman who told us it was 3 to 4 kms and we should take a taxi. A very cool temple with 2 stupas and a peacock. One stupa is said to be surrounded by a banyon tree, the other surrounds a banyon tree. They both looked about the same to me.

The 2PM bus to Lincang left almost on time with the aisle completely full of cargo. Hmmm. However this ride had a highlight, crossing the Upper Mekong River, called the Lancang Jiang in China.

We've crossed the Lancang several times in China, once north of here, and once south. This crossing was a thrill. The new and improved Route S323 is completed everywhere except for the bridge across the Lancang, so just before the river, we plunged down, down, down on a temporary dirt road, crossed the river on the old bridge, then headed up, up, up back to S323 getting a good look at the new bridge construction.

Arrived in Lincang about 6:15 PM. Found a hotel by 7PM. Changed hotels at 8PM after the first hotel could not produce sufficient hot water or roon lighting.

Just another day on the road.

Banyon tree and pagoda.
Theravada Buddhist Temple - Jinggu, Yunnan, China

The other banyon tree and pagoda.
Theravada Buddhist Temple - Jinggu, Yunnan, China

Best look ever at a peacock!
Theravada Buddhist Temple - Jinggu, Yunnan, China

Theravada Temple.
Theravada Buddhist Temple - Jinggu, Yunnan, China

Several views, in chronological order, from both banks, of the new bridge over the Lancang/Mekong. On the west bank, we go north below the bridge. Then we cross the river the old bridge; new bridge to the south. Then we head south on the west bank, passing the new bridge at eye level.

Mekong River Bridge - S323 - Yunnan, China

Mekong River Bridge - S323 - Yunnan, China

Mekong River Bridge - S323 - Yunnan, China

Mekong River Bridge -S323 - Yunnan, China

Mekong River Bridge - S323 - Yunnan, China

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On the Tea Horse Road

Although not as famous as the Silk Road, the so-called Tea Horse Road runs through Yunnan Province. Tea is said to have originated in Yunnan and during the second half of the last millennium caravans carrying bricks of tea set out from central Yunnan to all parts of Asia and Europe. Some of these caravan trails still exist and we came to Ninger in Pu'er county, Yunnan to walk them.

The first day we started in Mohei, a city that was a station on the old trail. We took a minibus from Ninger to Mohei, checked out some old 20th century architecture in Mohei, then walked the 18 kms south back to Ninger, about 7kms on the old trail, the rest on highway S214.

The next day we walked from our hotel up to the East Pagoda, then walked 4kms north-bound on the Tea Horse Trail and then back to town.

Walking the Tea Horse Trail was great. Lots of uphill walking, amazing views, plus a history lesson.

This courtyard building in Mohei dates from 1946.
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The start of the south-bound Mohei to Ninger section, about Km 2606 on S214, is marked by this stele.
Tea Horse Trail - Mohei, Yunnan, China

Headed uphill on the trail between Mohei and Ninger.
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After slogging uphill for 3 hours out of Mohei, we were rewarded with a shady bench and and these views of the tea plantations.
Tea Horse Trail - Mohei, Yunnan, China

Tea Horse Trail - Mohei, Yunnan, China

We were surprised to see such wide smooth stones on the Tea Horse Trail.
Tea Horse Trail - Mohei, Yunnan, China

Sun-Ling (in back) doing T'ai Chi with the locals in front of Dong Ta (East Pagoda) before we started our north-bound walk on the Tea Horse Trail.
Dong Ta (East Pagoda) - Ninger, China

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