Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Final Adventure - 24th Stop: Yuanyang

Up next is Yuanyang, the second stop in our whirlwind tour of Yunnan province. This one was even further out, requiring a 7 hour bus journey and then another 45 minutes on a minibus, sending us right down South towards the Vietnamese border. We were dreading another Luoping experience, where we would be landed in the Chinese countryside with not a soul in town who could speak English, stumbling from place to place with the locals' hands in our pockets and their piss on our shoes. Instead, it was thoroughly enjoyable and had everything we needed. Even the people were relatively nice!

Our guesthouse was located in a perfect spot, overlooking the terraces of Duoyishu – one of the three main scenic points - so even though it took some getting to, it was worth the journey.

Yuanyang, as you can see, is famous for its rice terraces which cascade down the mountainside in a seemingly endless flowing staircase. It's like the hills are made of melted chocolate! These terraces were started by the Hani people over 1,300 years ago, covering an area of more than 28,000 acres and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At some points, there are even as many as 3,000 levels!

The landscape was a lot like that of Sapa, a place we visited in the mountains of Northern Vietnam, and a quick bit of research shows that there's actually less than 135km between the two. Small world! Unfortunately, we also experienced similar weather in both places with unwanted fog blocking out a lot of the otherwise breathtaking views. I always hate leaving places knowing that the photos I took didn't do them justice. Still, we did manage to get a few moments in the sun.

Seeing as we were based right in heart of the action in Duoyishu, we only had two other spots to visit. Transport here is a bit unpredictable and your best bet is to flag down a minivan on the roadside and just hop onboard. We set off for our next viewpoint, 16km away in Laohuzui with this in mind, but as it turned out, we ended up walking the entire way ourselves! We were planning on getting a lift en route but one just never came! We didn’t mind too much though as we had the whole day, the only disappointment was the dense mist that surrounded the valley. It’s always frustrating when the weather spoils a view such as this. You want to take pictures that fully capture the brilliance you are witnessing, but the colours are washed out and the features are dulled, and even though you’re in the right place, it just isn’t the right time. 

I guess that’s the risk you take when you only give yourself one day in an area. It was certainly enough time to see everything here, but you are kinda gambling on the weather playing its part. You win some and you lose some...

It was more of the same weatherwise at the next view point of Bada, although this time we did manage to hop on a minivan so, small victories and all that. We made it back to our base in Duoyishu in the late afternoon, and luckily by that stage, the sun had come out and we at least got a few nice snaps.

Here's a quick video diary from the terraces:

And that was our short and sweet visit to Yuanyang! We spent almost as much time getting there and back, than actually in the place itself but it was still worth the trip, even with the poor weather. A quick mention too to our accommodation - Jacky's Guesthouse: amazing location, great food and Jacky's Mom was an absolute hoot, even though she didn't have any English.

The final thing I have to say before signing off is be sure to look up Yuanyang on Google Images to see how spectacular it can be with the right conditions. That seems to be the theme of Yunnan for us so far - within touching distance of unequaled beauty, but always one step behind. Maybe we'll have some better luck in our next stop - Lijiang!


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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Melody :)

    2. I always want to visit Yunnan province and it's amazing to read your post about the terraces in Yuanyang, as you mentioned maybe the weather was not the best on that day but you took beautiful pictures too! I'm looking forward to reading your next post in Lijiang,that will be surely amazing too. Have a nice time in China!