Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Oh the places we'll go...

Not sure where I got it into my head that I needed to see rice terraces… Even 12 hours of windy bus rides in two days and Tia stressing out about getting to Kunming in time didn’t deter me. Upon arriving at the Xinjie bus station a lady trawling for backpackers insisted that we come stay at her hostel. She urged us to put our bags in her car and constantly interrupted our deliberations— if she hadn’t ended up helping us find an ATM, we probably would have kept walking.

She and her husband ran a neatish, modest place with bathrooms where it looked like an entomologist had left his prized specimens behind and a little restaurant downstairs that cooked up a mean tofu dish. Her husband, whose attempt to grow a beard only yielded a few long strings on his right cheek, gave us a ride to a scenic point to watch the sunset, where we spent a good deal of time trying to capture the dizzying array of Seussian terraces that ran up the mountains. As per usual, it’s another thing that has to be seen in person to absorb the majesty.

Our bus ride to Kunming introduced us to the dark side of Chinese sleeper buses. Yes, they have a full bed for you to stretch out on, which, when we arrived, was occupied by a random dude eating sunflower seeds and spitting the shells out of the window. After wiping the debris off and making ourselves comfortable, a few guys on the bus proceeded to ignore the signs and began a chain-smoking marathon that would last into the night (the bus driver would later join in). Then a little lady next to us dressed in colorful traditional garb started vomiting in a bag. It wasn’t until we unrolled our damp blankets to watch tiny cockroaches run for cover that we wished we could have taken sleeping drugs. Turned out that we needed all of our senses since we arrived at 3am and had to scale a few 8 ft. walls to escape the locked bus station.

Not much more of this left in us…

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