June 16-17, 2009
We had time for just one more stop before our China visa expired. From Kunming we headed southwest to the town of Yuanyang, to see the famous rice terraces there.
The bus dropped us off in Yuanyang’s old town (Xinjie). A few touts were waiting there, hoping to convince us to stay in their hotel. One of these guys, who goes by the name “A”, succeeded, and took us to the Photographer’s Hotel. This hotel is pretty isolated, so the plus is that it’s quiet and the minus is that there’s only one restaurant (the hotel’s) and nothing else to do. Also, on the plus side, the hotel is situated in a really good place, in the middle between all the good terrace viewing sites. On the other hand it had a bad moldy smell, not surprising considering all the rain that falls there.
Anyhow, people come to Yuanyang to see the green terraced hills. The place is very popular with photographers who attempt to get interesting shots at sunrise and sunset. Pnina and I had seen a lot of rice terraces by this point in our trip, but the terraces here around Yuanyang are really special. There are many viewpoints around Yuanyang, so you can easily spend several days here going from one to another. But with our short time Pnina and I only got a chance to see one of them, a place called Bada. Our hotel manager, A, took us there for 20 yuan each, and the plus was that he knew a good spot for photos that didn’t require paying the 30 yuan entrance fee most people pay at a certain white house with a viewing platform. Bada is supposed to be the best place for sunsets, but when we were there it was too cloudy to get a decent sunset photo. Still, the hills here were undeniably beautiful.
A map showing the different viewpoints around Yuanyang:
Pnina with our hotel’s manager (“A”), and another tourist, Ben. Ben is from England, but he’s been traveling and working on the road for the last ten years (!!). His main skill is as a chef, which he says is good for traveling because it’s easy enough to land a job as a chef in different parts of the world. But recently he worked doing office work for an energy company, mostly because he can earn so much more in the same amount of time:
The terraced hills, viewed from Bada during sunset:
Workers in the field below:
Another shot with splashes of sunlight pouring between clouds:
The next morning I woke up very early to try to see the sunrise in another spot further away, but the weather was bad, foggy and rainy, so I bailed. Instead Pnina and I slept in and started making our way to the Laos border. But I can definitely see us coming back to Yuanyang again.
We didn’t take this photo – it’s a shot we found on the wall a the Photographer’s Hotel. If you come to Bada in the right season (after harvest), the rice paddies are reflecting pools, clear of greenery. In some cases a red algae can accumulate in dense quantities under the surface: