Jianshui may not pile up a bit list of must-see places but it relaxed us immediately after the harrowing sleeper bus experience that landed us there past 10pm. The bus station is in the newer part of town and is a few minutes from the old town by taxi. Our motorized pedicab driver (who helpfully pulled alongside our bus as we were unloading our packs from the bus under-storage so we could simply drop it on the floor of the rickshaw) had trouble finding our hostel's alleyway and took us to a fancy hotel despite us showing the printed brochure that was supposed to be handed over to taxi drivers.
V got out and involved some official looking people who seemed to be hanging about doing nothing outside the hotel. Soon, it was a warm debate among 5 people with our cab driver in the middle. We watched from the side lines with our "we are foreigners who handed a printed slip and you cannot expect us to do much else" look. Eventually, the debate wound down and we were on our way through a series of cobbled streets and alleys in Jianshui's charming old town. Suddenly we were outside the gates of our International Youth Hostel. We expected welcoming young ladies inside who spoke a little English and we were not disappointed.
The hot water dispenser was temperamental and the internet was switched off at midnight but the nice courtyard (with swings!) promised much relaxation and we got several hours the next afternoon to do just that. Another great opportunity to catch up on our blogs and we duly got the 3 Gorges, Chengdu and Kunming entries completed and uploaded (have you read them, yet?)
With nothing much to do except walk small distances between the Chayong Gate (a historic city-intersection tower similar to the ones in other Chinese cities) and the expansive Zhu Family Garden, as well as the Confucian Temple (free after dusk which we duly took advantage of), we chose to spend the full day and an extra night here. Jianshui is just that sort of smallish town which is easy on the feet that one feels like lingering. Just the opposite of what Kunming did to us.
The Zhu family garden was a pleasant walkabout in the morning. The family's history was around the turn of the 20th century during the 1911 revolution. Not really of great interest. Inside, we were lucky to get invited into the Calligraphic art gallery of an award winning Calligraphist. He spoke little English but understood that we were visiting from the USA. He quickly grabbed a fresh piece of calligraphy paper and set down a Chinese message with our names and USA in it.
We accepted an old lady's welcoming gesture to sample noodle soup for lunch at an eatery outside the garden. We did our obligatory chisude (vegetarian) explanation and got two massive bowls in return. We barely made a dent in one of the bowls. For dinner, we opted for a restaurant with an English menu. The food was alright but we got charged extra. We demanded an explanation and were told that the extra was for the chinaware on the table. Maybe we should have paid the extra and walked off with them!
The Confucian temple is great for people watching and not much else. The large lake inside the premises houses water lilies which is always a pleasant sight.
Soon enough, it was another morning with an early departure for a 4 hour bus ride to the Yuanyang rice terraces. We were now deep into Yunnan country and had left the freeways behind. What we lost in speed and smooth roads we expected to make up with much mountain scenery among hairpin bends and river crossings. What did we get? Read on in our next entry!
Enjoy pretty Yunnan. Do you notice the difference with people - so far, everywhere you have been its overwhelmingly Han. Yunnan is still majority Han, but do you see a difference with the multiple ethnic minorities there ?
The Dai women (or is it the Yi women) are pretty aren't they. Expert opinion from V please :) From , on Jul 9, 2012 at 03:21AM
@Ramesh - The presence of ethnic minorities is very evident. Their colorful dress and headgear are a dead giveaway. Unfortunately the presence of pretty women is offset by belly-baring men even in these southern parts. Seems like it is a national epidemic that needs international intervention. From, on Jul 9, 2012 at 11:09AM
Ha Ha. I notice that V has ducked the question nicely !!! From, on Jul 9, 2012 at 11:37AM