Hilltribe Villages and Ricefields

I’ve been in Yunnan now for almost a week and I’m struck at how few western tourists there are here.  It is actually really nice.  It is touristy but with Chinese tourists.  So I find that the local Chinese are intrigued with the foreigners.  My friend and I ventured to Yuanyang which is known for its terraced rice fields.  The best time to see them are in March.  At this time, the ricefields are actually empty but filled with water and if you can get the right sunrise and/or sunset, you can end up with amazing photos.   Photographically, this was amazing.  We only were able to spend one full day there, so we prayed that the weather would be good.  The sunrise was a bit misty which added a certain element to the photos, but I was also able to capture some light bouncing off of the fields.  After about 30 minutes, the mist rolled in and covered everything up.  The sunset was clear, but I really do need to invest in a telephoto lense because the distance between me and the ricefields didn’t do the scenery justice.

Between sunrise and sunset, we had to find other things to do and what we found was a wonderful experience.  We were in a tiny village in Duoyishu and we ventured to explore the village and surrounding villages.  We found ourselves interacting with the people in the villages around.  It started with the owner of the guesthouse who couldn’t speak any English.  She was trying to gesture to us if we wanted dinner and was walking around like a chicken to demonstrate to us what meat she was serving.  I took out the language section of my lonely planet and started saying the words (probably with the wrong intonation) and showing her the characters in order to make sure that we were understanding each other.  We were just laughing at the whole exchange.  The next day, it continued with a little boy trying to wet me with his water gun, but I made him run away, when I produced my water bottle.  We did a bit of chasing before I waved good bye.  We had villagers being so happy to just be able to get a response out of us by saying “hello.”  The strangest interaction was when we were walking down a road and a man was walking his two cows and he turned to us and instead of saying something in chinese (like most do), or saying hello, he meowed at us.  We thought it was so funny we laughed, but realized afterwards we should have barked at him or even mooed.  It was really nice to walk around these villages and just see life happening, like the little boy screaming in his mom’s lap as the barber shaved his head; the man buying 5 live chickens and holding all their legs together in one hand; and the woman drying her hair in the middle of the street in her heels and work clothes.   It was refreshing to be able to observe the these villagers from hill tribes live their lives and that was what was so special about the whole experience. 🙂

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