What little research I did about Xishuangbanna outside of where to eat was about day treks. With Pu’er tea fields, with some trees centuries old, and all those minority peoples whose histories date back way further, I really wanted to spend some time outside of Jinghong. Via Lonely Planet, I found Forest Café, which led a number of different treks of varying difficulty and length. I made some arrangements remotely with the owner to meet her brother, Stone, at the café on my first full day and finalize the plan.
Another out-of-town couple happened to want to do the Pu’er day trek on my last day in Jinghong, so Stone said to meet him back at the café then.
After an early morning bowl of noodles, I set off in the back of a bread van, the Chinese term for the narrow shoebox minivans that number many a Chinese street. The driver had the good taste to have made a mixtape filled with patriotic Chinese songs about the Diaoyu (or Senkaku) Islands filled with anti-Japanese jingles, which made for an informative ride up Nan Nuo Shan.
The roads were bumpy and narrow, but in fairly good shape. In about an hour, we were let out in this small village of slow-slung homes up in the luscious green hills, almost eye-level with the armada of clouds rolling off these hilltops towards God knows where.
From this quiet village with its skybound basketball court, we descended a bit into a valley, along a path lined with tall trees and short tea bushes, and the occasional pop of color.
These blossoms, with their velvety white petals and yellow center, are the flowers of the Pu’er tree. Continue reading