SPRING SERIES // Yuanyang, China (中国, 元阳)

The Yuanyang Hani Terrace scenic spot, about 370km away from its provincial capital Kunming is located in Yuanyang County with a low altitude at 144 meters rising to 2,939.60 meters. The scenic spot is divided into four landscape regions: Laohuzui (老虎嘴), Bada (坝达), Duoyishu (多依树) and Qingkou (箐口) terraced landscape.  To enter these 4 spots to view the terraced landscape, you need to purchase a tourist pass which cost 100 yuan. Well, it is actually just a platform built to have a better view of the terraces. There are other places to view them as well, that is if you have the time to go search for it.

Our 1st full day in Yuanyang, we got our guesthouse to arrange a mini van with driver for a day trip to major scenic spot for 350 yuan.

Ai village (爱村) –> Azheke village (阿者科古村落) –> Laoyingzui (老鹰嘴) –> Shengcun village (胜村) for lunch –> Bada scenic spot (坝达景观) –> Quanfuzhuang (全福庄) –> Qingkou (箐口) –> Laohuzui (老虎嘴) for sunset.

 

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Close-up of the terraces @ Ai Village (爱村)

 

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Floating red duckweed (红浮萍)
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Horses carrying construction materials to a village
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Traditional houses that look like mushrooms at Azheke village (阿者科)

My favourite place to enjoy the view of the rice terraces had to be Laoyingzui (老鹰嘴).  A narrow road in and not frequent by tour buses meaning you can sit at the edge of the cliff and enjoy the view peacefully, but please be careful to not fall.

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From a cliff overlooking the terraces is Laoyingzui (老鹰嘴).

We did not buy the tourist pass but somehow managed to enter into the Bada scenic spot (坝达景观). Bada is a direct translation from the Hani language which means the nearest place to the sky. Known to be the best place to view the sunset. Bada terrace is huge! Starting from the 800 meters above sea level at the Masu river and climbs up along the mountains, the steep terraces extended to more than 2000 meters above sea level.

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Bada scenic spot

Ended the day at Laohuzui (老虎嘴) for sunset. Well, no pass means we cannot enter the scenic spot to view the sun set over the rice terraces.  We had wanted to just stand along the road to see but it got crowded and dangerous as more cars and buses came and soon became a jam. We found an opening where a narrow and steep path leads us to a small open area with full and unblock view of the terraces. Bravo!

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Sunset at Laohuzui (老虎嘴)

Guesthouse – Cliffhouse (悬崖居)

This is the ONE! The guesthouse to stay in Yuanyang! The guesthouse sits right on the terrace field in Duoyishu village. A very cozy guesthouse run by Mr Greg Chen. He is very chatty and will recommend you the best way to explore Yuanyang, advise you on transports alternative, etc. He has been a great host to us in Yuanyang. A coffee lover himself, he will serve you his best coffee while you mesmerise at the sunrise but do not ask him for sugar or milk, he only serves coffee black. All rooms face the east, thus perfect for sunrise views. He must have wanted all his customer to appreciate the beauty of nature, all windows are without a curtain. Enjoy the warming sunrise, amazing cloud sea and sparkling night sky right from the room.

We allocated 3 nights in Yuanyang, thus decided to stay in their best room — Dragon room on the 4th level with our very own balcony. There are only 3 rooms with balcony, the rest are standard rooms. For rooms without balcony, one can go to the rooftop for the views. As it is his most prized room, he requested us to put 500yuan deposit via Alipay. Thanks to dear friend Cat Sum who currently is working in Shanghai who helped us to put in the deposit. (Hover over the pics to see the captions!)

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Basic room but cozy. One bad thing is that you have to walk out of the room, past the balcony to reach the bathroom/toilet.
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The balcony… Guess the bathtub is only for the summer.
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View from our room: waiting for sunrise
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View from our room: Sunrise with the occasional clouds
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View from our room: The sun finally pop out from the mountains
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View from our room: Amazing golden hues from the glow of the sun casting onto the water filled terraces
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Could not get enough of the sunrise view… took using handphone.

It’s a pity that on our 2nd day stay, there’s a sudden change in the weather, it drizzled a bit, and the clouds started to come in and the whole place was engulfed in clouds. Greg had wanted to bring us trekking but had to abort it. Nevertheless, we took this chance to relax in the guesthouse sipping red wine, trekked a little at the rice terraces near the guesthouse and walk around Duoyishu town.

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View from our room – late afternoon which the cloud sea engulfed the rice terraces
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No worries, we Ohave wine while watching the cloud sea

On the day we left Yuanyang for Kunming, coincidentally was also the market day (赶集) at Shengcun village (胜村). Shengcun is located in between Bada and Duoyishu. During the market day, the Yi and Hani minorities come from the whole region to sell, exchange or buy various kinds of fresh produces, animals and trifles. On our way to Xinjiezhen (old town) (新街镇) to catch the bus to Kunming, our driver brought us to Shengcun to attend their market day. There’s this festive atmosphere around as the minority women wore their traditional clothing to the market making the place very colourful. The locals were doing their buying and selling, animals like the pigs and chicken were in the cage or tie at the trees while the humans auction them off. Do drop by their market day if you got the opportunity.

Getting to Yuanyang & Our Ordeal

The best way to go to Yuanyang is via Kunming South bus station where there is a direct bus to Xinjiezhen. Else you may take a bus to Gejiu (个旧) from Kunming East bus station and from Gejiu transfer to another bus to Xinjiezhen. The road condition is good and is a more comfortable journey.

Our journey to Yuanyang started from Jianshui.  We missed the direct bus from Jianshui to Xinjiezhen, so we had to take the bus to Nansha (南沙) aka Yuanyang new town first, change to another bus to Xinjiezhen and take a minibus or taxi to our accommodation which is near to the Duoyishu scenic spot.

If you can, please avoid this route. It was quite a terrible 3 hours journey. A mountainous route from Jianshui to Nansha. Not recommended for people who have motion sickness. It was a mini bus thus making the journey worst. It was hot and stuffy made worse by people smoking on the bus. I wish to get out of the bus fast. 

When we reached Nansha, we wanted to find a bus that can take us to Xinjiezhen. We saw a bus that state the destination — Duoyishu. So we asked if this bus goes directly there if so we need not go to Xinjiezhen and change to another minibus. The bus conductor informed that it was a tour bus. It will take you to Laohuzui (老虎嘴) to see the sunset and return to Duoyishu thereafter. We were not interested to take this but the bus conductor kept urging us to take this bus. When we hopped onto another bus which was supposed to go to Xinjiezhen, the bus conductor called us to go to another bus and said that the bus will stop at Xinjiezhen before going to Laohuzui. Well, we had no choice but had to change bus since the bus we were on was still empty after sitting there for quite awhile, I believe there were conspiracies behind to get everyone onto that tour bus. The bus departed from Nansha bus station and stopped whenever whoever requested to take a photo of a particular view, flowers, etc. As the bus traveled, our phone GPS showed that Xinjiezhen was getting further away and was on its way to some other places. Kenn immediately went to check with the bus driver. Alas, we were conned by the bus conductor! The bus driver did not know that we were supposed to go Xinjiezhen.

They made a stop at the visitor centre, and asked all to alight to buy the entrance pass (100 yuan).  We did not want to buy the pass now, so the driver told us to wait at the visitor centre first, he will try to call a taxi for us. When all the other tourists went up the bus, he decided to call us up the bus again. The bus came to a stop at Qingkou (箐口) scenic spot. The tourists alighted and had their first view of the terraced landscape. The driver again assured us that he will try to get a taxi for us.

Finally, he managed to flag down a mini van. The van was from Xinjiezhen ferrying passenger to the various area in Yuanyang. Well, there were already like 6 people in the van, the 2 of us have to squeeze ourselves in, I am so glad I had brought a small backpack for this trip.

Turn out that the driver knew the boss of Cliffhouse and she kindly called Greg to come fetch us.  Finally… the ordeal is over. What a day.. by the time we reach Cliffhouse, it was almost 6 pm. What a day…

 

 

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