14 Nov - 19 Nov 2012 Yuanyang

East Asia
Yunnan Province
Yuanyang Xinjie
Dayutang Village
The Photographer’s Hostel +8615912875588 photoclubaa@yahoo.cn
Adequate double room with private bathroom and internet access, stunning views (from the bathroom window) over the Yuanyang Rice Terraces, for only CNY 50.- or US$ 8.- per night.
Beer: 518-ml bottles of cold Snow Beer Premium Light (3.3 % alc./vol.) for only CNY 5.- or US$ 0.80 per bottle from the hostel's fridge.

Click below for an interactive satellite view of The Photographer's Hostel in Dayutang, which we would recommend, and for directions:
N 23° 06.31' E 102° 44.49'
Note the random 0 - 500 m misalignment between Google's map and satellite views of the motherland, courtesy of the paranoid Chinese Communist Party.


Paying the highwaymen of the government-sanctioned local tourist mafia the compulsory entrance fee of CNY 100.- or US$ 16.- per person for so-called “Through Tickets” to the tarted-up “Four Scenic Spots” of the Yuanyang region and paying our tribute to three out of four: (i) to the artificial and rather boring, museum-like and fake folk-custom village of Qingkou, (ii) to the mind-boggling terraced rice paddies near the village of Bada, consisting of over 15,000 mu (c. 1,000 ha) of mutually connected paddy patches, and (iii) to the vertiginous viewing point near the village of Lao Hu Zui with a large expanse of terraced rice paddies, the Tiger Mouth Rice Terraces, which resemble surging ocean waves while farm cottages dotting the area reminded us of ships sailing the ocean.

“How can I free myself from sexuality? Eat nothing but rice?”

Hiking into the picturesque scenery of hilltop villages and flooded rice terraces aka titian, hewn from the rolling hills by the Hani (also known in adjacent countries as the Akha) over centuries, and getting an authentic taste at both (i) Xinjie’s busy open-air Thursday morning market (8 km, ½ hour, CNY 5.- per person) and (ii) Lao Meng’s huge open-air Sunday market (40 km, 1 ¼ hours, CNY 20.- per person) thus meeting people from the regions many ethnic groups in their traditional dress, such as Hani, Yi, Dai, Miao and Zhuang.

Watching during a spell of bad weather how the Chinese television channels vehemently tried to hard-sell the seven new leading grandfathers of the Communist Party to both the global and the Chinese public and discovering quite a few similarities, which make one’s flesh creep, between Nazi Germany and Red China: (i) booming economy with a military build-up at its core, (ii) one-party dictatorship with enforced political conformity, lack of democratic institutions and supremacy of the military, (iii) state-sanctioned propagation of a nationalist ideology, (iv) end-to-end control and censorship of the mass media as well as obsession with national security, (v) territorial claims and disputes with neighbouring countries, (vi) relentless persecution of political dissidents and disdain for recognition of human rights, and, last but not least, (vii) rampant sexism (…where on earth are all the leading Chinese grandmothers?).

Exploring our guest village of Dayutang, a five-minute walk from The Photographer's Hostel, meeting friendly Hani/Akha residents and trying their delicious local food (charcoaled tofu aka shāo kăo doufu, vegetable noodles aka mian tiao tāng, spicy stir-fried eggplants and peppers aka shāo qié zĭ with steamed rice), but also learning about the fact that being an oppressed ethnic minority with little easily accessible legal recourse, the Hani/Akha everywhere have long been subjected to still ongoing rights abuses (e.g. the Hani/Akha rarely have "official" or state-sanctioned land rights).

Getting from our friendly host couple Cindy & Ai a lift in their car to Gejiu’s main bus station (c. 100 km, 1 ½ hours, CNY 50.- per person), taking hereafter a public bus from Gejiu to Kunming’s eastern bus station (270 km, 4 hours, CNY 86.- per person) and connecting with city buses no. 60 and no. 2 straight to our hostel just off Kunming’s Green Lake Park.

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