Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Day 80 - Honghe Hani Rice Terraces to Jianshui - Tues 14 May 2013

Day 80 - Honghe Hani Rice Terraces to Jianshui - Tues 14 May 2013
Filled up with fresh mountain water before leaving camp. Came across truck parked in middle of road - and driver having sleep with feet up on steering wheel!! Down mountain to new town of Yuanyang, then on a windy “bush" road up past dam, river, fish farms, through mountains and pine forests towards Jianshui. Funny to see a lake up on top of ridge overlooking dam river far below. Very limited places to pull off road for comfort/ morning tea stop. Passed a coffin under tarp at side of road, people sitting on mound on other side, on outskirts of village. Many slow, heavy trucks on pitted narrow road, carrying rocks. A rare bird with russet crown and tail flew in front of us (like our Ozzie Pheasant Coucals), then a score of large black/ blue butterflies. 

                                        Reached town on top of plateau, road suddenly improved, and had a smoother ride towards Jianshui. Reached a milestone - now north of Tropic of Cancer!! Asian men walk around with shirts rolled up on torso (whether “buff” or not) - guess they’re just cooling off?? Gum trees along road into city. Agricultural fields, some crops dry/ stressed, others healthy eg purple cabbages (maybe underground irrigation?) Tall tiled ornate gateways into houses, with tiled pictures or inscriptions above entrance, but otherwise it was a depressing dusty back entrance to city.  

Turned out to be a really hot day. Walked through Chaoyang Gate, guarding centre of town, full of clusters of people playing cards and tiles/Mahjong. Lunch in restaurant with traditional food eg chicken with dates, furry noodles.

Walked through Tianjun Taoist Temple, with its long teaching history, yingyang symbol/drum, gong, man storytelling, woman dancing by herself, bright scary statues and images.

Bought supplies and headed out of town.

Camped beside Shuanglong Bridge “dragon with two heads”, very picturesque, with darting swallows. Andy responded to Cheryl’s question on the coffin we saw today, telling us story of his grandfather’s recent funeral. Feng Shui Master and Taoist Headman decided on date and time of funeral and position body would be laid in, as well as place of burial. Family had to negotiate piece of land with farmer who owned hill, then two sons (2 daughters not important) had to sit awake with casket night and day for 7 days, feed all visitors, then hire band to process through town (to alert people something happening) to hill, open casket twice to check body remained in Feng Shui position, place inside an urn of burned papers which captured his last breath, and finally close coffin and fill with earth. Andy said it was better to negotiate with farmer extra land at same time (and price) for grandmother in case price goes up! Clothing person dies in and money on their person is distributed to family – can’t be used or sold - brings luck. Visitors contribute food and money to costs inside red envelopes.

Added raw notes to blog, worked on editing photos on computer - crashed twice “blue screen of death” (“but it’s only new” wailed GirlRob….) Will have to back up everything in Kunming just in case it dies completely. People in China are far less shy/ more bold re looking inside Ozzie- walk straight up steps and put head in, some don't knock. Most intrusive! We will have Andy in our vehicle for next three days due to Guy's cold.

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