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travelling with laughter

The story of the Crazy Chinese man with a London accent

CHINA | Saturday, 8 September 2007 | Views [1683]

Ant and i have been in Jinghong for a week now and it feels like home, its a really relaxed place with nice cafes to chill in, beautiful scenery and some wonderful people.

We have spent our time cycling around the city, into the countryside and this resulted in really sore bottoms but its been good fun! We have also been very good and mostly stayed away from western food and have been eating off the streets - well not literally......the dumplings are fab but the other day i must have eaten a dodgy batch as i had a very funny tummy the following 2 days so i think i will stay off them for a while!!!!
Our 'love shack' (really only joking) has been alright and although it is a bit musty it kind of feels like home so we have been loathed to move on. That and the fact that it would mean re-packing our bags and trudging round the street looking for somewhere else. Our neighbours, a chinese couple that live there are lovely and have been filling our large flask with hot water every morning.....perfect....as i don't function too well without my dose of caffeine first thing! We have had one incident in the room with a very uninvited guest....Mr big fat cockroach! I found him IN my wash bag......Ant was called on for bug removal. He did a remarkable job although there was a fair bit of screaming (from both of us) and Mr bug was thrown over the balcony along with the cup that he was in! Though a couple of days later i think he came back for avengence and in a cafe teased us by flying round our heads then came in for the kill.....landing on Ants neck! He was very calm and collected (there were other guys around!) and swiftly swiped it off and stomped on him for good measure. The funeral was held yesterday. Sadly not many tears were shed.
Our highlight though by far has been our tour. We dillyed and dallyed as to where we wanted to go and with which tour guide and finally we decided to speak to Joe. He seemed the friendliest by far and Ant informed me that his english was great so we went on the hunt. We, by chance bumped into him in a cafe and talked about what we would like to do. Let me tell you about Joe: he is 33 and is pratically fluent in english, though for some strange reason speaks english with a london accent and knows phrases like 'bottoms up' ?!? He is kind of crazy...actually he IS crazy, but he has an absolute zest for life so he would be the perfect guide! After a couple of hours talking to him i did get the impression he may drive us a little crazy...espeically when he started talking with an indian accent...hilarious! But as someone to rely on and have fun with purfeck!!!!
The plan was made...we wanted to go to a minority village and stay with them - joe didn't seem to keen and kept on stressing things like 'uncomfortable' and 'mosquitos' and wouldn't you prefer a '5 star hotel?'. I think what it came down to was the fact that as he would be with us HE didn't want to rough it. We were also then given a choice of getting to a village by van or tractor? I jumped onto the idea of a tractor....yay! what fun! Ant and Joe both looked at me like i was stark raving mad but i stuck to my guns! Tractor it would be. The plan was to meet at 9am, go and catch a bus and then hopefully get a tractor ride to a village, us picking up some gifts on route. I must stress at this point that although we had Joe our guide, we all had no idea as to exactly where we were going, how we would get there and where we would be staying? And there are no hotels once you leave the town....
We met at 9am headed off to the bus station and made our way to catch the bus to MENGHUN. Once there we walked to a goverment office and Joe inquired to find out about some villages to get to, where they were situated etc. We were then given two options...first village was 16 km away along a really bad road and the second was 8 km along a good road....difficult choice hey! Well we chose the nearest (well we were going to be travelling by tractor) and the goverment man then told us we would be able to catch a' tractor' from the village. We walked in and Joe started to chat to some people and told us that not only was that tractor going where we wanted but the couple and little girl would let us stay at their home aswell in a village called MANGANG. Brilliant by a stroke of luck we were sorted. Ant and i bought some gifts, cakes, sweets and copious amounts of cigerettes to give to the family instead of money.
The tractor was very basic, an engine with a trailer attached. We climbed up and found a place to stand, hanging on to the rails for dear life... We were on our way up the mountains to stay in a village with the 'AINI' people. Some of the road was quite bumpy but on the whole it was good fun, we had to get out a couple of times and push it up hills but it was all part of the adventure. We arrived after about half an hour and we were shown to their home, it was all made of wood, they live on the second floor using the ground floor for storage. These houses are quite spacious and are built in about a day. We were told to make ourselves at home and given tea to drink, we felt very welcomed.
The couple were lovely, their names are: wife- liu xing, husband-mei you and the cute 17month old little girl-zhing hai yuan. We walked around the village into the hills to see the surrounding areas and had our first introduction to the black bees. Apparently they are HUGE, Mei you's father works with the bees, he smokes the bees out and takes out sections that contain bee larvae. These are a local delicacy and can make him lots of money at the market.
We had lunch with the family which consisted of rice (of course), fish head (i let Ant do the 'polite' eating with that!), chinese lettuce (awesome) and pork (again Ant to the rescue) and white carrots (yum yum). After we had eaten we chilled, watched abit of 'Pearl Harbour'-amazed that they had a telly! and i played with their daughter who would just wander around...we were on the 2nd floor and there are no balcony's or anything of the sort and i was so worried that she was going to fall off....my heart was in my mouth most of the time! She seemed to be aware of the danger and didn't venture too close! She was a cute little thing and we had fun! I dug out some shells i had collected in Hong Kong and she had fun with those (i knew there was a reason i had kept them for so long). During lunch other people arrived, friends and relatives (i think we were the talk of the town) and we all went on a walk in the jungle...
We walked in the mountains, through the tea plantations and right into the jungle where it was very over grown and a little tricky at times, even Ant in his 'amazing crocs' was slip slidding all over the place. Of course i was a giggerling wreck until it then happened to me...whilst we were walking Mui you chopped down some bamboo roots for dinner and one of the guys sang us back to the village. No idea what the song was about but he had a lovely voice until Ant decided to join in and completely ruin it!!!!
After a couple of hours we arrived back at our new 'home' and we told to make ourselves at home again....i by this time haven't been brave enough to ask for the loo but i couldnt wait much longer....i hate this mission...you never know what you are going to come up against. Well Liu xing kindly walked me through the village to the loo, she pointed at me to go around a corner and there it was.....actually a refreshing sight. A little wooden hut over a stream with a curtain as a door - though i noticed this AFTER i had been for a wee wee. whoops! It didnt smell or have swarms of bum kissing flys and definately no maggots....the only thing was the neighbours down stream would know excactly what you had been eating! A new meaning to the word 'floater'.
Back at the house more friends, relatives were round and we also had the priviledge of meeting mui you's father the 'bee man' and he kindly brought round a palette of squishing slurping bee larvae....it sounded abit like coco pops when you put the milk in but a little more stomach churning....They started tucking in much to my disgust...even offered them to us....how kind........Ant went for it...though he did get one of the guys to take the poo out first!!!!! And he did it! Good one son! I wasn't having any of it though......
Dinner was served, same as lunch but also with the bamboo roots that had been chopped up earlier. We were also embraced into the baiju drinking(chinese rice wine) known as ji-ba in the AINI language. Served in little bowls and always accompanied by 'dodgie' meaning cheers....and alot of this went on! Earlier we had bought 5 bottles of rice wine, 4 beers, 2 bottles of lemonade and biscuits alll for 3 pounds 50.....our appreciation gifts....and let me tell you not much...well none was left by the end of the night...
But before it got too alcohol fueled the now 'steamed' bee larvae came to the table and was broken into segments and handed round.....Ant fuelled by baiju was tucking into them like they were a bar snack...the thing is there were different stages of these squirmos..some were just like maggots, others had wings and legs and if you are very unlucky like Ant you would find a fully formed BLACK bee.....which to a round of applause he crunched his way through...Yuk yuk yuk. I must say (and i will be waiting in anticipation for my hearty round of applause) after 3 hours of staring at them and a little encouragement/bullying from Ant i gave in and did the deed with a drink on stand by.....it wasnt actualy too bad, a bit nutty with a texture of sweetcorn. One was enough though!
During our meal and a silly amount of dodgy booze i retrieved my ipod and gave it to one of the guys to listen to. Let me just say that 'Dire Starits-Money for nothing' and 'The Eagles-hotel California' went down a storm and we had a bit of a boogie! Brilliant!
The ladies of the house also brought out there local costumes and proceeded to dress me in it. I had a little problem with the waist band as either i have turned into a right bloater or there waists are tiny! It was v v v  small. The costumes are beautiful, they are hand made with loads of beads, buttons and very colourful embriodery. Each item takes about a month to make and is made the mother-in -laws. The outfits are worn for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and any other important dates. I felt very priveledged to wear it.
Bed time, went for a shower behind a v flimsy curtain....little concerned that i might scare all the neighbours but that done said all our farewells and went to crash on the floor. Joe, Ant and i were sharing a surprisingly comfy made up bed...."three in the bed and the little one said..."......'cosy!' During the night of course i decided i needed the loo..great...pitch black and a walk through the town ahead of me. Ant was a real gentleman and came with me, torch in tow......another 'bonding' moment for us as he had to shine the torch into the hut so i could see what the hell i was doing...and more importantly so that i wouldnt fall through the holes straight into the river! Also through the village were quite a few growling dogs, which made me in turn a twitching wreck......now they could have been tiny little scroats of things but i didnt want to take my chances.....so all in all, thanks Ant! Saviour...
In the morning i woke to be completely squished in the middle of Ant and Joe.....very cosy indeed....but at least we all stayed warm! Breakfast was noodles with chopped onion and tea ( no coffee...ahhh!) and then we left to go to the local sunday market.Liu Xig took us in to the village and kindly found us a tractor to ride in, our payment in kind was to give them a ciggie. The drivers fag proved to be a little tricky as i really did want him to tkae his hands off the handles....so i was told to light one and hand it to him..simple task really or so you would think......but not so easy when you are hanging on to a simple rail over bumpy roads.....but after abit mission was accomplished and everyone was happy. Off we went with a cloud of smoke.....literally!
The market was brilliant....all the local minoritys swarm down to trade there produce. It was a mass of vibrant colours...their clothes (each group can be defined by the pattern and colours of their clothes and bags that they wear), and all the fruits and vegs....the meat stands weren't so great.....buffalo legs! intestines...penises....chickens trussed up by their feet, masses of fish being gutted etc. It was an experience!
We wandered around the town through streets covered in rice that was being dried on the pathways.....ate some lunch - strictly veggie....saw the cook pulling out eels from a bowl and whacking them on the side......and headed back to Jinghong. It was a wonderful experience and more than either of us had hoped or dreamed of. So much thanks goes to Joe, later named Joe the bridge (breaking the divide of the language barrier) for making our trip so special.....
So off to Dali........and more tales to come!

Tags: Culture


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