A Travellerspoint blog

January 2006

You'd Take Her Home But Not Giver Her Your Number

  • no photos for this entry, not even of the girl on the motorbike. Sorry but nothing at this time compared to the beauty of Damenlong.

Wednesday, 1st February 2006

Woken early by loud music. It would have been ok if it was another type of music, even Boyzone would have been better that the damn Wedding March. It was so loud. Why are you doing this to me! We packed and got out of there as quick as we could to have breakfast at our little family eatery. When we returned to collect our bags a Chinese Wedding reception was nearing full swing. The handsome groom and his beautiful bride were standing at the gates welcoming all as they entered. Here is where it gets funny. At a Chinese reception the bride and the groom and their families hand out packets of cigarettes to everyone who attends along with other assorted goodies. Hey thanks for coming, now go and put another nail in the coffin! The bus ride home was just as bumpy and dusty as the ride to Gung Gung. The amount of dust that came in through the bottom of the door was amazing. Breathing was horrid! When we arrived three hours later the Bus Girl wiped her jeans and shoes down with a 'wet one' and the state of it before she threw it out the window to litter the streets was a thick reddy brown colour. When we arrived at our favourite hotel I went for a hair cut, gawd knows what the lady thought of all the dirt in my hair and the smell of my many days old clothing! Judy went to get us a room and found it had now gone up to 150yuan a night. Oh ya gotta love China...even though you know I'm ripping you off, I'm gonna actually make it worse and charge you another 50 Yuan because I can! I'm sure she smiled a forceful smile before leaving. She had had enough by this time and wanted to stay in a beautiful hotel so over to the Original Banna Hotel we went. Our room even included a Western Toilet! WOW, what is that strange thing in the bathroom I asked. It's growing out of the floor! For the price of the room I was very disappointed. No fly screens, dirty towels, a used toothbrush on the bathroom floor, no water machine and the room was very stuffy! Our 30 Yuan a night room included all this except the stuffiness, it included airflow for free! After a beautiful shower and putting on my clean clothes we dropped off our stinking washing. I put mine on a lead and let walk beside me! Whilst sitting at Mei Mei's eating burgers I sat watching a beautiful girl posing on her motor bike whilst on her mobile phone. She was beautiful and she knew it. She was running her hand through her hair and shifting it from side to side and then shaking her head. She was very beautiful so I ordered a ginger and honey tea so I could watch longer. I kept searching for cameras thinking maybe she was making a shampoo commercial or even a China Mobile add. In the end it became all too amusing so I left with Judy for the supermarket. You'd take her home but not give her your phone number, too high maintenance! After using body language and making the girl giggle by shaving my face and smelling my armpits she showed me to the shavers and the little Avon stand. I have such a great time and amuse even myself whilst shopping in China. A trip to my local market place ends up being a game of charades. Why learn Chinese, this is more fun! Soon the old ladies are right in there playing the game with me. We took a walk down what we call Jade Street, I think it's actually called Burmese Street. This is where all the people from Pakistan, India and Myanmar have their shops. Every second shop is a Jade Jewellery shop with the same guy in each doing his best to entice you in to buy crap you'll never wear. I'm sure it's the same guy who runs down a little hidden pathway at the rear of the shop. Maybe his mother had 50 sons whom all look the same and all wear the same sarong/dress thingamabob. In between each Jade Shop is a tourist clothes shop all trying to inform you that everything is hand made etc. Maybe hands unpack the boxes but they did not make the clothes! I forked out 20 Yuan for a 'handmade' 70 Yuan shirt. All the way down I negotiated with the sellers offering as little as possible for as much as I could get. I don't mind doing this on tourist streets, it's all a bit of fun and they love the game. Its rouses them from the sleep with their head on the counter. In the end I left with only my handmade (70 Yuan shirt I got for 20 Yuan) shirt that I'm sure is worth 3 Yuan. But hey, everyone's gotta make a buck! We spent the night at the Mekong Cafe playing cards. By now Judy is well into the high 10,000's and I'm just about 10,000 points. Adding up is becoming a game in itself after a few beers, especially Beer Lao which is 5%. Uli and Vicky had not returned from her parents yet so I didn't have to force some home made corn moonshine down. The Cafe is down to only Dali Beer which is made from hops and rice. It's like drinking beer flavoured water. Vicky needs to return and have Uli run around from shop to shop collecting as much Beer Lao and Tsingtao Beer (Chingdow) as possible to keep the customers happy.

We had a snack on a beautiful Dai dish. It was a sweet and sour type thing made from pineapple, tomato and potato. Just beautiful! Even Judy stayed till nearing midnight this evening, mainly because she was kicking my butt at cards! I have to invest in a new deck of cards. It's so hard to get rid of these ones as they came along with me last time so it's their second visit to China, plus the deck is missing the Ace of Hearts. Strange thing is though, I'm the one whom forgets this and waits on the ace of hearts for half the game before I remember.

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Damenlong, A Place In Paradise (Gung Gung)

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya

  • well, here I go again. Damenlong fans, I do apologise but here is where I must explain why there are no photos of such a peaceful place. Once again, accross from the 'Peoples Hospital' you'll find the same little Kodak shop. Return there, grab the same long haired git by the shirt and ask him where the award winning shots of Damenlong are! GRRR!

Once again, it could have been worse. I could not have made it out of Damenlong alive. I could have been locked away by the Monks and never let out again in the temple behind the temple behind the town. Kinda spooky really, like a Stephen King story. ...sorry, read on...

  • **photos added Monday, 3rd April 2006***I finally got a hold of some of Judys photos but they just don't capture Damenlong like mine would have. There is one of the monks on the motor bike and only one of the young monks whom locked each other in the room. Sadly there are none of the locals slowly riding up and down the main road. now you can read on...

Damn, Spring Festival really kicked into Jinghong today.

As usual we went to pay our coming nights rent and found our room had been booked. We were offered a single room for more than triple the price. Uh uh, bugger that mate. We went to check other hotels and hostels and the same situation in all. Why wait until today, I thought we had actually escaped the rising prices this time. Another bugger was the laundry's were still closed and would remain closed for the next few days. I still had one set of clothes left and the arm pits smelt fine.

During breakfast at Mei Mei's we decided to head off to a place called Damenlong.

Had no idea what was there, no reason for going but no reason not to get out of Jinghong with these absurd prices. It's so funny that at this time every year, the entire population is blatantly ripped off by each other and no one says a thing. They just pay up and are happy to do so. Strange, very strange behaviour. Our prices go up in Australia over holidays but it is nothing like this, this is just unbelievable. They try to justify it to you by showing you that everyone else is paying the same, but at the same time you try to justify paying yesterdays tiny price in comparison to today's by pointing to yesterday's amount in the counter book. They just smile and continue pointing to today's price.

You can never ever win during Spring Festival!

After collecting our bags we headed to Bus Station No: 2 and caught a road side bus to Damenlong. We were actually expecting a little city/town but ended up in a dust ridden village. Usually I love these places as everyone would know from my past writings but Damenlong...um, it's hard to find words to describe Damenlong.

Ok, here goes.... If China had pickup trucks and gun racks, every single one of them would be in Damenlong.

It's Hicksville; it's like China's version of the real outback Aussie town full of pig shooting, beer drinking red necks. A little too stereo typical I know as most people in these towns are beautiful and very friendly people. TV has given it's version of these towns and hopefully you get the idea of what I came to think of Damenlong. I didn't dislike the place it was just so funny to sit and watch it's people live their lives.

We spent the days making up bill board signs and tourism slogans... A place in paradise, only for the chosen few. Damenlong! etc.

In fact we renamed it Gung Gung.

When Judy was young her father let the children choose a place on the map and they would drive there for the weekend. Once she chose a little out back town known as Grong Grong. When they arrived it was a train station with a skull on it and not much more. She told me the story and I named it Gung Gung as I had forgotten the real name was Grong Grong.

So became the dream of Gung Gung!

The first afternoon we were taken to a Hotel above a corner store. We could have sworn this was the only hotel in town. I've stayed in worse but if I didn't' have to I wouldn't. Picture a room where the bathroom door is hanging on by wire and doesn't close. The little vent in the bottom of the door is gone and clearly through it you can see the squat toilet. Nice for the girls using it. Not only that, the roof leaked above the toilet. It continually dripped into our toilet...not nice for the girl using it! The place hadn't been stayed in for several years judging by the cleanliness of it all. Whilst walking around the town an hour later we found behind a group of shops a beautiful new hotel that cost only 30 Yuan more.

Within a few minutes we had our bags and were checking in.

For dinner we had noticed a friendly open garage type family restaurant whilst walking so we made our way here amongst the smiles and 'hellos'. Here we sat for a hearty meal and a warm beer before continuing our walk. We ended up in the towns only bar. A bar that actually served warm Budweiser and ice.

Don't you just love it. Everyone was having beer on ice. I can't understand why if everyone wants cold beer, why don't they put the beer in the fridge and then not have to worry about making half a freezer full of ice. I tried to ask, the communication gap was too much so we sat for our warm Buds on ice.

Sometime during the evening a Japanese guy came over and offered us meat sticks. He was on holidays for only one week and had come all the way down from Shanghai to go to the border of China and Myanmar. It is a long way to come. We asked him what the border was like. Boring, he said. There was nothing there! I wondered what he actually thought would be there but I thought it best not to ask.

Poor Bugger is now trapped in Gung Gung until the morning!

In Damenlong everyone has a motor bike, I mean everyone! It's funny watching Monks in their Orange thingamabobs, two to a bike riding down the dusty street smoking cigarettes. Remembering when I was younger, we'd drive around the town doing 'blocky's' listening to music etc for hours. Here in Gung Gung they would ride up the town's only real road, not a long road either.

There are no street lights and they'd ride for hours 4 side by side, riding slowly and talking.

Why not walk or sit for a beer? Who am I to question!

So for hours we sat and drank our warm Buds on ice watching motor bikes, 2 to 3 people to a bike slowly go up and down the little dusty street with no street lights whilst happy locals offered us BBQ. It was a beautiful night. The people of Gung Gung are beautiful people and the girls are very very beautiful indeed. One more detail about Gung Gung, the street may not have clothes shops or street lights but it has enough BBQ stalls to feed a hungry herd of T-Rex's. Prehistoric man could actually walk freely in Gung Gung and smile safely as the huge arsed dinosaurs would be happily sleeping off the previous evenings BBQ!

Tuesday, 31st January 2006

Gung Gung...A place in paradise, only for the chosen few. Another day in Gung Gung as arrived. This day we began at our little family eatery. Then up to the Temple behind the town followed by the temple behind the temple behind the town. Here two young monks amused us by locking each other in little rooms with pad locks and then yelling for 10 minutes to be let out whilst the other showed us around the place.

After sad good byes,luckily both Monks whom were walking freely again we walked around Gung Gungs back streets. We found little lane ways and rested beside a beautiful well covered by a huge bell. Here a very beautiful girl came down to collect water. To me it was a strange sight watching someone so well dressed and so beautiful collect water from a well. In fact, watching anyone collect water from a well is a strange sight to me. In fact, any well that is actually used is a strange sight to me. In rural areas I'm used to people just dipping a bucket into the local filthy river.

I wondered if they still needed to boil the water from the well. I would, but would they actually need to?

Next we headed up the hill to yet another temple and took some happy snaps of something that wasn't really much at all. We decided to leave pretty quickly and headed along a lane way out into the trees. We come across a huge brick fence and followed the trail around passed Chinese tombs with offerings of rice and water on them. We came to a gate a peered inside. It was a war memorial, but why was it hidden up here in amongst the trees and why was it locked.

We decided it was time to leave.

We headed back down to the main road and out of town. We came across another golden entrance. Here we watched some young monks play cards with two beautiful young girls. I wondered if the same thoughts went through their heads as went through mine at their age. We walked around and decided to head back into town. On the way a family asked us to come in and play pool with a group of kids. It was the game where you had to shoot from lowest to highest. You couldn't really do much else as all they had was the large balls or half the set. It was a heap of fun.

One of them was pretty good too and beat me pretty quickly.

The night was spent at the hotels restaurant eating and playing cards until the staff sat to eat. We then took off to the town bar to continue cards and drink some warm buds on ice whilst the town's people rode up and down the dark street on their motor bikes. A funny thing happened. Whilst playing cards two drunken guys came over to watch us and see what we were playing. One of them had been listening to us play and when I lost a game he came out with a loud BUGGER! He knew the exact context to use it correctly.

We couldn't stop laughing. So we happily ended our last night in Gung Gung.

Gung Gung the place to be

Gung Gung the place to be


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Gung Gung the place to be (8)

Gung Gung the place to be (8)


Gung Gung the place to be (9)

Gung Gung the place to be (9)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Menghai, Menghun, Mangshao, Nanluoshan N Gasa

* well, here is where I must explain why there are no photos of such a great day. In Jinghong, accross from the 'Peoples Hospital' you'll find a little Kodak shop. Go there, grab the long haird git by the shirt and ask him where my photos are! GRRR! Whilst driving his keyboard down the speedway he somehow changed not only the format of my photos, but also my memory stick and then lost the lot. So now I'm a memory stick less as my camera won't read the new format.

Argh, could of been worse, I could have lost an eye the previous evening due to a three year old throwing fire crackers at me and running off to then throw more at the monks who were throwing them at each other. Anyhow, read on...

  • **Photos added Monday, 3rd April 2006. There are only some from the morning before Judy's camera also ran out of batteries. Sadly hers aren't the type you can buy at a local store...now you can read on...

Sunday, 29th January 2006 - NEW YEARS DAY

For some reason in our moments of sobriety the previous evening we all decided it was a fantastic idea to hire a car and a guide and get out of bed before 7am. Yep, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt! Oh, too early for life but somehow I dragged my beer butt out of bed and rose at 6:59am to sit for noodles with Nick and Shannon (the young Aussies I met in Dali last summer) and be ready for the driver around 8am. By that time life had kicked in and the day could begin. Our first stop was two hours away in a town called Menghun at the local market place.

In China most local markets are pretty much the same, but what made this one special were the colourful local clothes worn by the women of the local minorities such as the Akha, Laha, Bulang and the majority minority the Dai. Such colour, such beauty and such a pain in my beer butt that my batteries died. I ran from little stall to little stall buying batteries that wouldn't even turn my camera on. That's a real BUGGER! In the end I left defeated and on the way up the street I finally found some alkaline batteries. Four of them lasted for the next half a day. Ya gotta love the Chinese Duracell batteries! I did begin my holiday with my rechargeable batteries but once flat they only work...if you remember to bring your re-charger! I didn't!

The second stop was to the local Dai Temple over looking the town. Another beautiful temple with beautiful views of the surrounding areas. Maybe Mc Donald's was started by a minority Monk from China. Here they have all the best views and the best real-estate in town, the same actually works for Mc Donald's in the cities.

The third stop was as a village named Mangshao. Here we visited a group of families whom all work together to produce roof tiles and paper...all by hand and all from scratch. We watched them cut the clay, stamp the clay, shape the clay and put the newly formed roof tile or brick into the sun to dry before it was taken to another family whom owned the kilns. Here in the scorching heat the women would but the trays of tiles etc in and after one month the women would unload the trays. The men, well, here in China most of them do as little as possible. Not all, but most. I know a million people have said it before but I'll say it again...I hope never to bitch and moan about any job I have now and in the future. I wouldn't last a week with the shear boredom and back breaking efforts required here. But just to let the reader know, a Foreign English Teacher usually makes more than most people in their town, but these families actually make a lot more than us. They work a hell of a lot harder but for three months work they make more than us in a year.

The fourth stop was to a town called Jingzhen to visit the Octagonal Pagoda built in 1701. Argh, 1701, when the English could happily steal bread and not worry about being sent to The Land Down Under. We weren't heard of and the Chinese were building pagodas. The Octagonal Pagoda, what can I say, it had eight sides and a big tree next to it. The actual highlight was watching and listening to the very young monks learning songs. It was beautiful to hear them laugh when they made a mistake and then tried to find the right key to begin again. On the walk down the hill we visited a family whom makes the little wooden carvings that make the Temple walls more beautiful. Rather interesting really.

The fifth stop was as a little Akha Village known as Nanluoshan. Just beautiful. We then headed towards Jinghong for a beautiful stop at a restaurant overlooking mountains that were once filled with rice fields. Now sadly they are filled with the Rubber Tree. The Rubber Tree Plantation is the latest cash crop for farmers here in the Xishuangbanna. Yes everyone must make a buck, but sadly they are very ugly. The lunch bill was rather normal compared to the last group lunch we had. That of 450 Yuan! This one for 5 people was under 50 Yuan.

The sixth and final stop was at a Dai village at a town known as Gasa. Here we visited our guide's friends who showed us around his house. This time I shall remember the inside of a Dai house, unlike 5 years ago at the Dai wedding when the family got us so drunk I can't remember the ride home. There was also a small temple thingamabob that was 400 or 700 years old or something but familles had covered most of it with some type of melon they were selling and loading onto trucks. We'd have a fence around it, the Chinese cover it with melons and use it as a seat, the Indians would leave it to become overgrown and forgotten.

So ended the days little adventure. I don't usually do stuff like hire a car to be driven to places but it was great to spend the day with Nick and Shannon before they head back to Australia to resume their lives at University. Sadly for them, one on the Gold Coast and one in Melbourne. The rest of the evening was spent reading at the Mekong and sharing a few beers with those whom dropped in for a chat.

A Day Trip With The Aussies (1)

A Day Trip With The Aussies (1)


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A Day Trip With The Aussies (9)

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

My Second CHINESE NEW YEAR In Jinghong

Saturday, 28th January 2006 - Hey Hey and a Big Farken CHINESE NEW YEARS EVE to ya

I rose with excitement this morning. It was New Years Eve and we were heading back to Jinghong for my second Spring Festival in Jinghong. How lucky I am! To have the chance to actually spend Spring Festival in China is more than enough, but to spend two of them in such a beautiful place is more than anyone can ask. We headed to the little cafe across the street for egg and tomato and taro pancakes. The taro pancakes ended up being 9 taro cakes, a little too much for two people let alone one person. They were rather nice though. As we left we could see the staff happily eyeing off the last 4 or so on the plate.

Ok, now it was time for the windy road home on the vomit bus with the bus driver from hell.

Well, we thought the first driver of the day was bad. He kept stopping buses going our way and we had no idea why and in fact, how he could see who was driving as the speed he was driving. Finally after two bags full of vomit contributed by the couple in the back he found a driver that nodded his head. Soon we were all moved onto his bus (bags full of vomit and all) and our first bus driver sped off into the distance. Whether he made it home in one piece we will never know. Now came the bus driver from the even deeper parts of hell. The drive from Jinghong to Mengla took us 4.5 hours. With the help of our bus drivers we accomplished the distance in 3.5 hours, or a tad more. How let down were we when there wasn't a crowd, reporters and medals awaiting our arrival in Jinghong!

After a huge burger at The Forest Cafe, not the best as Sarah's brother cooked it and as usual the bottom of the bun was like eating rocks. So in the end I ended up with half a burger! But the goat's cheese made up for the loss of half the bun. Both Judy's and my memory sticks were full so came the wonderful adventure of finding someone who would or could burn our memories onto cd. We found a Kodak place whose staff was more than happy watching their daily drama of Chinese Soap. With a scowl and a huff one of them got off their butt and inserted my memory stick into the reader. With eyes on the TV she clicked here and there and downloaded both sticks. I watched on in fear...oh please watch what you are doing...PLEASE! There was a tad of an argument over the price of the disks. In Guangxi its 5 Yuan, here in Jinghong they feel its right to charge 20 Yuan. Not happy! So 40 Yuan later we left with available space for more future memories.

The Chinese New Year was spent partly in Mei Mei's Cafe, out on the streets and at the Mekong Cafe. The funniest part of the evening was watching the young Monks running up and down the streets like children in orange throwing firecrackers at each other. Other parts of the evening I felt I guess what it would feel like one was in a war torn country. Looking outside of ones comfortable cafe the darkness and silence was continually interrupted by huge BANGS and BOOMS causing shadows to flicker here and there and everywhere. The crazy part of the night was watching children and their parent's string lines of crackers up the building walls on not plumbing but electrical cables, light them and run off.

It seems everyone becomes the same age here in China on New Years, that of 10 or so when all thought either hasn't really entered ones head or thinking for oneself doesn't really matter as someone else makes the decisions for you and keeps you safe. At the Mekong Cafe the staff was throwing crackers around the Cafe, even the spinney ones that shoot around the place. Argh, its all fun and games until someone gets hurt...luckily no one got hurt and we all left with both eyes to help us stumble home.

Crackers N Spring Festival

Crackers N Spring Festival


Crackers N Spring Festival (1)

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Mengla Market Place N Walk

Friday, 27th January 2006

For breakfast we decided on the little cafe/bar across the street from our Hotel. Who knows, maybe the breakfast would be better, plus one of the girls had such a beautiful face. Hey, she got my return! The breakfast was beautiful! The previous evening one of the shoe shine guys had stopped to watch us play cards. He was so interested and had such an awesome happy smile. This morning he was doing his rounds of the city and found us on the cafe's porch and stopped to see if our shoes were ok. My sandals were in fine shape, a little thin in areas but I guess my toe nails could have been a bit cleaner, maybe that's why he kept pointing to my feet.

In the end Judy gave in and had hers polished and glued to perfection.

The day was spent walking around Mengla's outta areas. We began with the 200 and something stairs that took us to the inner mountain top. Here there were many new houses that were trying to overtake the older areas that had been here since who knows when. In the end I'm sure they will win, money usually does. After walking a maze of streets we finally found one that took us down the other side of the mountain. Here we walked a very dirty street towards a horrid factory. Here I found one of the greatest toilets I've used so far in China. You wouldn't take you mother within 100 meters of it!

A brave little girl began walking beside us and she had such a happy smile. She skipped and smiled as we walked. We reached the factory headed back the way we had come. Other kids joined our little friend for a photo session and she happily headed in the other direction.

Whilst walking we stopped to watch some worker women carrying sand and stones into a building site and then up ramps to the top. Unbelievable! They would use a bamboo shovel type thingsmabob and fill baskets. They would then put the basket on their back and head on up the ramp. I bet I couldn't even lift one let alone get one onto my back!

We then headed across the river out into the little villages where we replied to a million 'hellos'. This is my favourite part of travel, the little villages and its people. This is why I love Tianyang so much. I love the houses and the little lane ways. Here I spent 20 or so minutes playing badminton with a boy around the age of 9 or so. If we had more room I'm sure he would have kicked my butt but luckily for me the shuttle kept going over the fence. After our happy good byes we continued our walk and finally made our way to our little 'Snow Cafe' for a couple of beers and about 4 hours of cards before heading to BBQ Street for some meat sticks, potatoes and a few more beers.

Mengla Market Village N Walk

Mengla Market Village N Walk


Mengla Market Village N Walk (1)

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Mengla Market Village N Walk (9)

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