After eating, we went to look for our hostel, so we took a bus and after getting lost a couple of times and asking around here and there, finally we got to the right place. And actually on the way to the hostel we realized we could be somewhere else but in China. Jinghong is a small city and it looks like it is in the middle of the jungle: palm trees and palm trees everywhere. They have big and wide avenues with plenty of these trees surrounding them. You add some coconut trees here and there and yes, you are in the jungle city.
Once in our hostel we checked-in, left our bags in the room and went to explore Jinghong a bit. This time the hostel was more like a hotel, still with a nice courtyard but not the same atmosphere as the one, for instance, in Chengdu. Anyway, the owner was really friendly and helpful and the location was excellent. The only downsides were the Internet connection, which was slow (actually this is one of the things that have changed in China in the last 5 years: Internet speed has got slower and slower, weird, eh?) and the room heating. Even if it was really warm and nice during the day, at night it was a bit cold, so some heating wouldn't have done any harm. But again, the heating thing is a problem they have in all Yunnan.
The plan for the next day was to take a bike and go to a nearby village to see a waterfall and the village itself, but reading at some guests' reviews and seeing pictures in the hostel, we decided that we could perfectly skip the 6-hour bike ride and instead take a bus to a nearby village to see the famous White Temple. And so we did.
We expected to land in a tiny beautiful village or something similar, but instead Damenglong was a dusty big town with even a shopping mall and no charm at all. We visited a small Buddhist temple and went to try and find the White Temple. And this resulted to be in a nearby village. We walked along the road, visited another nicer temple and went up through the village (this time a tiny and beautiful one) until we reached the temple. After negotiating the entrance price with the guard, we were free to wander around. And it is a really nice complex: a huge white pagoda, an even bigger golden Buddha and nice garderns were to have a rest. Some hour there and back to the main road to catch the next bus back to Jinghong!
Next day was devoted to Nannuoshan. Nannuoshan is a mountain around half an hour by bus from Jinghong famous for its tea trees plantations. The thing is going there early and slowly climb to the top of the mountain (it should take around 3 hours) to see the tea trees and some villages on the way. That's the right thing to do, but as we are not really morning persons, we woke up quite late, slowly went to the bus station and arrived in the village at the foot of the mountain around 12pm.
The village was really nice and undergoing a local tiny market. A woman invited us for some tea, but we left it for later, as the objective was to get to the top of the mountain, enjoy the views, the villages and the tea trees. They told us it takes 3 hours to get to the top, so we decided to start walking at a quite quick pace, other wise if it was 5 or 6 hours both ways, we couln't make it on time to catch the last bus back to Jinghong. And so we started walking.
Once on the top we tried to look for the tea trees and we met a couple of Chinese guys who were spending some days with the locals. They were very nice and offered us to take us through the tea trees to the oldest tea tree they have there. We were guided by a small local girl and the two Chinese through the forest and yes, we could see tea trees and stuff, but as it was getting late we decided to come back before reaching the old tree.
One hour walking downhill and we were again in the village the bus dropped us in. A bit of time to look at the local market and also to accept an invitation from a local woman to have some tea.
For our last day in Jinghong we asked the owner of the hostel to reccomend us some nearby village. She said we could try Mengyang, a small not touristified village. So there we went. It took us some half an hour to get there through a really beautiful landscape. Definitely more beautiful than the village, which has nothing special at all: a few dusty streets, a local market and that's it. The best thing is a bar right next to the bus station where we sat and enjoyed a beer in the middle of an artificial lake.
The days in Jinghong and its surroundings were really nice and enjoyable. After the cold in Kunming we really appreciated the perfect weather (even if at night was a bit cold) and despite the villages around Jinghong are not exactly postcard ones, the landscape and the South East Asia feeling you have all the time are worth the trip to Xishuangbanna!
If you're planning to go to the area, have a look at both our Xishuangbanna Travel Guide and our China Travel Pics!