Last night I took my first sleeper bus! What a fabulous fabulous way to travel long distance. I took a 15 hour bus ride from Riga to Moscow and ended up with swollen feet and a sore back. On the sleeper bus from Dali to Jing Hong life couldn't have been better for my back or feet. Perhaps if I were a bit taller I would be complaining dramatically cause my height is the limit for a comortable journey I think. There were moments where I had to move my head back up to the top of the bed so my legs could regain the private space...it was luxury and I had most splendid dreams. The only issues might have been the gas release of some of the passengers and the smell of the pillow and blanket but those are minor details in the grand scheme of things.
So, I am now in Jing Hong the capital of Xichuanbanna and I have entered a new world in my China horizons. Here it is a tropical paradise. Palm trees line the roads an oppressive and humid heat fills the atmosphere, the people are soooooooooo chilled out and relaxed and in the 10 hours I've been here i've seen 4 foreigners so I feel like I've left the tourist hoards up north in the cool of the mountains. The minority people here are dominant and I've also seen many Indian looking salesmen, perhaps they are burmese I don't know, but they are dark skinned and all speak English very well. They also wear a sarong and a white singlet, a uniform that sets them apart from the local inhabitants in their bright hats (or their modern get-up). The streets are lined with tropical fruit, mangoes, dragonfruit, mangostines, pawpaws etc...and earlier there was thunder threatening us with rain. I don't think it came though cause it seems fairly dry outside.
I won't be here long unfortunately and fortunately as I've bought my ticket for a Bus to Loas tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn. Dario is in Luang Prabang for another day or two and I don't want to miss him before he heads back to India his land of choice. So I will be leaving China...beautiful and wonderful China! It has really grown on me, of course I have only really seen but a fraction of what she has to offer but that has been enough to develop some serious feelings for her. I met a woman this morning who has travelled from Moscow to here as well and we shared our travel stories. She, I think is more of an adventurer than I as she walks and walks and walks when ever she gets the chance. In mongolia, where she spent a month, she found a stream and simply walked along it for 2 weeks then had to find a way to get back to carry on the train journey. Here she has reconnected with another traveller and tomorrow they're heading out to walk the hills here for 3 days or so...I'm envious of their commitement to walking yet I'm also satisfied with my commitement to relaxing and taking things pretty easy! We discussed different characters we'd met along the road and came to conclusion that part of the joy of travelling alone (as she was before she met the other traveller) was meeting other people and sharing time and space...I wrote of this last time and hold true to it. One of the reasons certain places are remembered with such fondness and stimulate joy in my heart are the people I've met. Having limited Chinese means that most of these people were other travellers (English speaking Chinese included) because there is only so far one can get with thank you and hello when it comes down to the nitty gritty of human communication. Meeting folk along the way has made the way more memorable and special! I'm sure there are travellers with different thoughts on this topic who would completely apose my theory and that's ok! I can only speak for myself.
I met a man yesterday who had travelled through South East Asia quite extensively and he was giving me tad bits of advice on certain places, Laos in particular because I was heading there. It was funny, he claimed to LOVE Laos and all that she had to offer yet by the end of our conversation I was sitting there frightened to move from safe and super developed China. ALL the roads are TERRIBLE, the people will TRY to take ALL my money like VUlTURES eating a carcass, the weather is AWFULLY hot and mosquitos will EAT me alive, the Food is EXPENSIVE and not as good as China, The accommodation is RIDICULOUS and not as cheap and reliable as China, the Trekking is MUCH better in CHinA etc....From all I'd heard about Laos before I felt terribly ignorant and foolish for having any positive thoughts...so now Laos will be a surprise! I'll expect nothing and just hope I survive the hoards of blood sucking mosquitos, the gulping, guzzling, grabbing locals reaching at my limited funds...ha ha! A new chapter awaits!
So from China I say farewell and next contact will be from Laos, mysterious Laos...