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Manting Park, More Wet N Wild Women

Thursday. 2nd February 2006

I awoke in the expensive hotel room with a stuffy nose and after a shower I dried myself with a dirty towel. Luckily Judy had paid most of the room's expense as I wanted to head next door to the hostel. We grabbed our bags and headed next door to The Banna Hostel. I think I've found one of the best hostels in China. It's not the best looking and the rooms have no windows and you also have a shared bathroom BUT, you get robes, electric hot water, a water machine and the one great thing I love about it is the one thing I have always wondered why it doesn't exist...you have hooks in the bathroom, not only hooks but a plastic curtain that you slide over your clothes. 99% of places have no hooks and nowhere to put your clothes except the sink that gets wet no matter how hard you try to keep it dry.

After breakfast we took a walk down to the big park at the end of the Mekong Cafe Street.

We paid our tourist prices to get in and spent a lovely couple of hours walking around. We even hired an electric boat and took a ride around the huge lake for half an hour. At one stage a water snake wriggled on by. How nice, I think I'll just leave Judy in there if she falls in. Tee Hee! In the park there were a couple of pagodas and temples. The white one came out fantastic on camera against the blue cloudless sky. I got stuck at the tourist clothes shops bargaining for 3 tee-shirts for nearing half the price of one. In the end I had to pay 5 Yuan more and I was happy. They are big and full of bright colours. They'll be great for summer and the kids will love them.

Plus it's so hot and sweaty that no one will notice how wet they are.

As in Ganlanba there was a huge water fight at the park centre with heaps of beautiful girls in brightly coloured minority dresses. I deleted some of the temple shots I had just taken and took a couple of extra shots! My memory card was running low and I didn't have my other one with me. On our return to the town centre for food we stopped at a tiny little stall we had never noticed before. It was run by a tiny little lady whom was disfigured from the waist down along with a hump back. Instead of begging she chooses to sew beautiful had made bags and clothes. They were so beautiful and her smile was so happy and full of life, I bought myself a new waist passport holder and Judy got herself a new day bag thingamabob.

We sat for my favourite Chinese food. A plate full of joutsa. Oh baby, bring on those dumplings!

I mixed my sauce to the right taste and began dipping and chewing as fast as I could so I could eat more than Judy. A few tables up from us were two girls talking in English with European accents. One was crying with a beer in her hand and the other was telling her that 'the guy is a bastard and he's not good enough for you!' I chose to spend my time watching the two girls effortlessly make joutsa from scratch. They roll the dough, fill it and pinch it together. Sounds easy doesn't it....HHHhhhhmmmm! Mandy and Yang Yang had a great time watching me give it my best shot during our many joutsa making evenings.

The afternoon was spent at an email cafe actually writing to people.

I have had so many emails that by the time I have read them all I've had enough and head out into the sunshine instead of replying. I also spent a couple of hours updating my diary. By the time I was losing patience with everything due to sitting before the computer for too long Judy had dropped in and it was nearing 7pm and time for food.

For a moment I sat and contemplated life. I wondered how, for 15 years I worked in an office. A little cubicle or a small amount of office space where you fill in your time as your life passes you by.

15 years later you may have changed offices or courts or whatever several times, Microsoft had introduced new and exciting Windows based software to run your systems on but you are still in the same modern ergonomic chair that gives you the same back, neck and headache each day. I sat proud for a small time, proud that I had actually taken the step to live my life's dream and the dream of many arm chair travellers whom I have met though my travelogue. Of course I gave up and lost a lot to do this, it's not the nicest feeling in the world when I look back at the past few years but here I am, teaching in China and spending any and all my free tine with a pack on.

I love my school and my kids and I'm the happiest man I know.

Anyhow, this all lasted a couple of seconds and soon Judy and I were sitting down and had ordered Thai coconut chicken with yellow beans, mixed vegetables and a bottle of Beer Lao which we devoured over chit chat about this and that. The evening found us at the Mekong. We received a happy and warm welcome from Uli and Vicky whom had just arrived themselves. Uli proudly showed off his 20 litre container of homemade corn moonshine that Vicky's father had brewed! I began to run out the door! Judy and I sat for a long game of cards and some Dali beer. Uli promised that a real stock would be in by tomorrow evening. He spent the night with a fellow German whom had arrived that day.

In the morning at breakfast we had met a girl named Lyn. She was a fellow Buckland's teacher whom has now changed from being a teacher to working in the Buckland's office. She arrived later in the evening and over a beer told us about her day. She had met two Chinese friends who only knew a little English a few nights earlier and had spent time with them over the last few days. Today she had wanted to spend alone in the Botanical Gardens but the two Chinese had hired a taxi for the day and had driven around to find her. They greeted her with excitement and told her she must come with them for it was very exciting. They couldn't explain in English where they were going. She got excited and the following three and a half hours she spent in the taxi going to the exciting truck stop that is the Chinese/Myanmar border.

The Chinese happily took so many photos that the Taxi driver even got impatient.

On the way back they continued to stop in stupid places so she got out and decided to find her own way home. Some guy began walking with her up the road and was trying his best to talk to her. He had been drinking and decided to just walk into someone's house to use their toilet. Not long after he was running out of the house being chased by a man with a shovel that continually beat him. She finally made it back to Jinghong around 10pm and was glad to share a beer with us. These are the stories I love the most, things that just happen, no plans for them to happen but somehow you are made part of it. We said our good byes to Uli, Vicky and the staff and after dropping in at the Dai Guesthouse for another beer I sat up until 4am at our hostel talking to a French guy and his Chinese French speaking girlfriend.

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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