Jianshui (建水) is an ancient town in the Honghe Prefecture of Yunnan province. An old town where cobblestone streets are lined with mansions built during the Ming and Qing dynasty. It is, however, occupied with many new and fashionable stores that you thought you are in a big shopping mall. Some scenic spots in Jianshui old town include the Zhu Family Gardens, Jianshui Confucius Temple, Chaoyang Tower, etc. You may also venture further out of the old town to the swallow cave or Zhang Family Garden. Jianshui is easily reached from Kunming South Bus Station with buses every 20 – 30 minutes. The journey is about 3 – 4 hours.
Jianshui was meant to be a stopover place for our journey from Luoping (罗平) to Yuanyang (元阳). There’s no direct bus from Luoping to Jianshui. The only way is to do a transfer at Kaiyuan (开远). Once we reached Luoping bus station, we went to buy the earliest timing bus ticket to Kaiyuan. There are not many buses a day to Kaiyuan, probably about 3 – 4 times a day. From Kaiyuan, take the mini bus to Jianshui new town and from there take a cab or their “Tuk-tuk” into the old town. The whole journey took us about 7 hours.
It was almost 3 pm when we check-in to our hostel. Decided to visit the Confucius Temple since it is just a 1-minute walk from our hostel. The Confucius Temple in Jianshui was originally constructed in 1285 with over 40 times of renovation and extension, thus making it one of the most well-preserved temples in China. It is free for locals thus you see many elders sitting around the gardens, the ponds chatting and playing chess. The temple is also frequent by students, especially during the exam period. The entrance fee for tourist is 60 yuan.
There are many water wells in Jianshui and they are still well-utilised by the locals for their daily needs. The biggest one is at the West gate out of the old town opposite the Chaoyang Tower (朝阳楼). After you crossed the road from Chaoyang Tower, walk further down on your left and find the signage for the tofu factory. The West well is just beside the tofu factory.
Visit the tofu making shop — 曾记板井豆腐坊 to savour on freshly made soy food and witness the tofu making process! At 5 yuan per person, you can drink all the soy milk and eat all the soy beancurd and soy fritters you can.
Tofu is Jianshui’s specialty and has been featured in the famous foodie show — “舌尖上的中国” (A Bite of China). The local way of eating it is barbecued (临安烧豆腐). Dip it in soy sauce, pepper powder, crushed garlic, etc for added flavour. Sit around the fire and wait for the tofu to be barbecued till crispy. Actually, I don’t quite like the taste of the tofu here, I much prefer the ones at Yuanyang (元阳) thou.
The locals really love barbecue! There’s one whole street lined with barbecue stalls. Other than the usual barbecue stuff, I saw various kind of insects and some unknown stuff on display.
Following the recommendation on Lonely Planet, we found this no-name BBQ stall (seems to be just operating outside their house). At 6 pm, the main BBQ area was already crowded, we settled ourselves at the corner. After finding out how to order, we took the tray and picked the items we want and passed it to the BBQ auntie. The food was really yummy but they like to sprinkle chili powder onto the food, very flavourful but a bit too spicy for me.
Jianshui has not been high on my places to visit but this BBQ food stall ended my short visit in Jianshui on a good note and make for some good memories.