29 March 2017

Duoyishu – Shengcun – Xinjie – Jianshui

Minivans and Markets

Walking around a town on the Mountain. Downs and Ups

Buses, Bloody Buses

Back to Normality – For china

Time to leave the terraces. If we were guaranteed good weather, we would stay and try to get around to the other viewing platforms, but it is supposed to rain again. Walking up the hill we hailed one of the passing minivans. He was going to Xinjie so we negotiated a price and set off. Winding our way around the narrow street, weaving in and out of traffic, picking up a few other passengers we made it to a market. This didn’t seem like Xinji, so we pulled out our map program. Turns out we were stopped in Shengcun waiting in line behind the other minivans for more passengers to Xinji (all the others with us departed here). After waiting quite a while in the back of the van, we eventually got out, and saw a market. Asking how long it would be, the driver said it would be at least half an hour. Enough time to walk around at least.

The market sold everything from bakery products to plastic shoes, pigs, ducks and other animals, which were duly thrust up into small bamboo containers and slung onto the buyers backs for the pigs, or just held by the wings for the fowl. There were trinkets and all the other usual stuff at markets as well as a large section dedicated to meat. The local Hani people were out in force, gathering whatever they needed, and catching up with each other. There were also a lot of local tourists at the market, and we swear that there were more photos of Andrew’s hair than the market itself. Anna quipped that we should look up facial recognition of social media to see how many there were. We guessed about 20 for the rest of the world and 1000 for china!

Back at the van, the driver had disappeared, and the final car in front of us drove off, thinking we would get going soon, we waited for the driver to return. The vans behind him were not as patient, with several jumping in front. This happened for a while. The driver would come back, see cars in front and leave again. The cars would fill and drive off with others replacing them. We almost grabbed our bags from the back and changed vans, but didn’t. At some stage the driver hung around, we collected some people and headed out. Finally!

At Xinji, we got to the bus station and grabbed our tickets for the bus. Because it had taken so long to get there, we now had to wait for 5 hours for the next bus. The positive side of this was that it gave us a good chance to walk around Xinji. The town is built on the side of a hill, and we were roughly in the middle. Walking around, we went from the school where all the kids were pouring out, to the market street, with bikes whizzing around pedestrians to residential and having walked most of this central area, we decided to go the rest of the way up to the temple we could see at the top of the hill. This was quite a hike up steep flights of steps. As usual. But it was a nice place, and quiet compared to the throbbing sounds of electric bikes and people hawking their wares and the incessant sounds of construction. Sitting above all of this looking out over a town stretched along a ridge line was bliss. Then back to civilisation to get the bus back to Jianshui.

This time we were taking the direct bus, and being a bigger bus, we knew it wouldn’t take us straight over the mountain. We did hope however that it would stick to the toll roads and highways. Getting down the mountain we did end up on a toll road, but it was anything but direct. It would pass through a lot of the smaller towns on its way, picking up the odd passenger here or there. Due to this, it actually took longer to get back to Jianshui than it had taken us to get to Xinji! I swear the bus never went above 40km/h. On dark we finally arrived at the Jianshui bus station, but at least we knew how to get to the hostel easily. And we had passed the #8 bus on the way to the station, so we knew it was still running, which at this time was our greatest concern.

Mission done, we had arrived back at Jianshui. A bit later than we had expected, and without the time to do any of the things we still wanted to do in town, but we made it out for the night, looking at the East Gate all lit up. There were masses of people there again, and the music was blearing away, with several different styles competing for your ears. The music came with their own followers of dancers. This ranged from the traditional, to line dancing and a freestyle thing as well. The old men were sitting around the outside playing cards or watching the mainly female groups of dancers.

It was possible to still go up the gate and into a small photographic exhibition on the history of the Jianshui region under French rule. It gave a bit of perspective on what the town was like a hundred years ago to what we were seeing today. Makes you wish for a time travel machine.

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