We have safely arrived back to Kunming in route to Guangzhou, via an evening flight after an action pack day. We started our morning in a very local market in Xishuangbanna with farmers and merchants selling everything from one-eyed rats in gerbil wheels to a plethora of colorful spices and flip-flops. A very remote part of China, our guide had indicated that for many of the local people we would encounter at the market it would be the first time they would have seen a westerner. The people in the busy market were more than happy to let us take their pictures and many asked if we could pull the film out like a Polaroid for them to purchase.
After the market we traveled to a rural Dai village. An autonomous prefecture in the southern Yunnan province, 34% of the population in Xishuangbanna belongs to the Dai ethnic minority. Visiting a traditional Dai village was an incredible experience. We arrived just as the day’s rubber collection was coming to an end, so the villagers were bringing the raw white latex down to the trucks from the hills by the barrel full. We then hiked up to the top of a hill behind the village to visit an Theravada Buddhist temple that dates back to the 13th century. Our guide performed some ritual prayers while our group admired the statuary and architecture.
We had a wonderful home-style lunch featuring local foods from the surrounding farms and afterwards, our guide gave us an overview of some of the Dai people’s culture including the “opening door,” “closing door,” and “splashing water” festivals. Later in the afternoon we had an opportunity to visit with a couple of families who invited us into their homes to talk about the village’s history and their current way of life. On our way back to Jinghong, we stopped at some of the terraced rice-flats that dominate the valley. We happened to catch a bunch of workers returning from a traditional afternoon break and we had the opportunity to see them transplanting young rice into the flooded fields.