Travels with Dick and Karen

CHINA Spring 2012

Part 5

china detail map
The bus from Menglun crossed the Langcang River... which will cross the border in about 20 miles to be renamed as the Mekong, serving as the border between Laos and Burma. Mekong/ Lancang Jiang
Jinghong is a much smaller city than Kunming... only a half-million people. So far it has very few high-rise buildings city

Our room in the hotel (Jingland) that Sara booked for us. Centrally located on a low-traffic street behind one of the grandest hotels in the city.

The resourceful desk staff didn't speak English but that didn't matter. They typed their responses into a translation program that answered our guidebook/phrase book pointing and mimed questions quite well. The room had a free computer with internet connection which answered the rest of our questions.

Since we were deep in-town, our room looked out upon the rear of typical domestic housing. The bushes were full of birds in the morning. room view
The view from the hotel's front desk of our sleepy street. our block
The posh hotel near us was the King Land hotel, featuring two more-than-life-sized elephant statues marking their driveway. elephants
Dragon and Thai-like decor were everywhere... and then we found the shop that sold it (including to the temples). We had to restrain ourselves, since we were trying to do this 4-week trip entirely as carry-on. ornament
The "Thai-like" is actually Dai Minority, whose language and design sense are both very similar to what's found in Thailand. Neighborhoods were formed as individual smaller streets, with a stylish peaked gateway at each end of the street. The golden triangle of the gate's top can be seen in the distance. street
Here again is the Dai influence on the design of a Buddhist temple temple

For breakfast in the cities we tried to find bakeries that made raisin bread. They made many other things, but frequently with bean paste (which Karen can't eat) or lots of custard (ditto).

For lunch and dinner we were often at the Mekong cafe just around the block (where some of the staff speaks English and you can also get advice and maps) or we had dinner at Sara's Forest Cafe (which only operates when she's not out with a tour). She makes truly wonderful whole wheat bread as well as being a great guide and dinner cook.

In Menglun Sara had shown us the secret of finding Chinese yogurt. The best brand was Euro-Asia at a third the price and twice the quality of the "name brand" yogurts in Hong Kong. This little shop was on our "sleepy street" and we gradually ate through his entire supply of "plain" yogurt (the little tubs on the bottom shelf of the cooler cabinet). It comes with a straw to drink it. yoghert
Another ornate Dai (and Chinese) style gateway to a side street. gate
This gateway leads to the Jade Market... dozens of shops lining the street offering carved jade, mostly from Myanmar (Burma) ... or perhaps plastic imitations thereof. gate
The main roads also had their impressive gateways... gate-day
...which came alive at night with colorful lighting gate-night
The main divided street that our "sleepy street" led to was half-closed every night to become a street market from 8pm to midnight. As the time neared 8pm the last "late parkers" had to creep through the growing crowds. night market
A few blocks south of our hotel was Manting Park, formed around a lake. It used to be a separate village for royal slaves. Manting Park map
...with pavilions and gates, park gate
banyan trees... banyan
a six-foot diameter ceremonial drum... drum
people in colorful minority costumes... costumes
"bamboo" rafts to punt around the lake (the bridge may look like timbers, but it's really all painted concrete, right down to the "rings" on the ends of the "sawn" pieces) raft
A forest of bouganvillia on show during its bloom ... bouganvillia
There was even a small zoo with an elephant performance area elephant performance
Topiary elephants and fish ... topiary
You can even have your picture taken with a parrot ... parrot
On the rise above the lake were a few replicas of nearby famous temples and shrines. This one copies the Bamboo Shoot Pagoda that's really in Dameenglong, close to the Burmese border south of Jinghong white temple
This is a copy of the Octagon Temple in Jingzhen to the west. The copies save the tourists from having to leave town. octagonal temple
Amidst the copies lies the real "Wat Manting", the largest Buddhist monastery in the southern region. temple
...another day, another park... this one included clear plastic tubes large enough to stand inside and roll across the water. water
It was a narrow lake, with high rise (for Jinghong) office and shopping blocks backing on to it. water
Here's our guide Sara, holding court at her tiny 4-table Forest Cafe restaurant. Scads of guidebooks in many many languages line the wall. Her brother Stone (seated) is also a guide and maintains their website. sara
The understated entry to the Forest Cafe. Really... no flashing neon. forestcafe
The interior of another "gated" neighborhood, with retail shops surrounding the central area store
We noticed an Apple store... about 5 doors away from another Apple store... apple
A shopping mall in the design style of the gated neighborhoods. mall
A musical instrument shop ... located beneath one of the gateways. instruments
There seemed to be no limit to what could be carried on a motorcycle or pedicab. In this instance, it's a sculpted steel street light transport
About 40 years ago, someone came up with the idea of marrying a cultivator's motor unit with a pickup-like "trailer". The utility of this style of vehicle transformed the peasant farmers' lives. It's a one cylinder engine with the simplest of cooling systems: a tank of water on the cylinder head, which boils off during use. Stop and refill as needed. Steering is done by swinging the cultivator's handle side-to-side in the cab. This one is in the "maintenance yard", so it's missing the rubber belt which couples the flywheel to the driving wheels. truck
Topiary in the city... naming the hotel that stands beyond the parking lot topiary

Jinghong has its own botanical garden...

Dick and a Calabash ... what's the origin of the syllable "bash" in calabash?

It has Baobob trees ... baobaobs
A heavily pruned bouganvilla grove ... bouganvillia
Cocoa pods ... cocoa
Figs ... figs
Jackfruit ... jackfruit
Papayas... papaya
And actively-flowing rubber trees! rubber
We wandered over to the shores of the Lancang (Mekong)... the water level was very low, so the side beaches were quite wide. port
The new Xishuangbanna Bridge spans the Lancang bridge
The river traffic includes excursion boats that will take you down river to Chiang Saen in Thailand, threading the needle between Laos and Burma as it goes (check on the status if you plan to take this as there have been service cancellations due to pirates). mekong traffic
Near this high berm paralleling the Lancang, an area called "New City" was going up. This brick promenade, which parallels the river, is marked for hundreds of booths for yet another night market. promenade

Next Stop: Yangshuo

Hong Kong Kunming Shilin Menglun Jinghong Yangshuo Hong Kong (again)


all text and images copyright Karen and Dick Seymour 2012,
and may not be reproduced without written permission

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