At 05:00 am, we set off and arrived at the village of Duoyishu, long before the sun peeked around the mountain edge. We listened to the village coming to life and gasped at the unreal scenery, an enormous area of terraces carved from the mountain slopes, still sitting there in the semi-darkness. Even the chilly temperatures could not distract us from this most impressive scenery. It was just the six of us enjoying this magic awakening.
For two hours, we watched the ever changing light and took photo after photo. Later five (!) Chinese tourists joined us. One of them had state of the art photography equipment and took photographing very seriously. A young lady with her adorable son tied to her back came up from the village to sell hard-boiled eggs. We were hungry then and the eggs were still very hot, so we first used them to get our hands warm: the temperature was still a bit “fresco”.
Later on, we stopped at many other view points, each breathtaking, literally. We had “breakfast” in a small village, buying various foods from the Hani ladies: dumplings filled with sweet cream and many fruits. We soaked in the village life at these wee hours. The most amazing thing was how unconcerned people were with the presence of tourists.
It took us a while to realize what was so striking about this environment. All these people who dress and work their fields like a hundred years ago, all live in modern houses, built of bricked and covered with whitish tiles, like everywhere in China. The roads are paved and all kinds of vehicles plough the narrow streets… It was a contrast that was difficult to comprehend!
Around noon, we were back in Yuanyang and we started out again at 04:00 pm to see the. We arrived two hours too early so wandered around and found a nice view point, closer to the terraces. Again, it was our little group and the same Chinese tourists. We looked into a valley of terraces cascading down the surrounding mountain slopes. The vastness of the cultivated area was simply overwhelming.
Unfortunately, this place lacked the quietness we enjoyed so much when watching the sunrise. It was the usual: ladies trying to sell postcards and artifacts. One of them even offered to take us to a view point a few minutes down for 50 Yuan! When we made it there on our own, the next entrepreneurial villager “attacked” us: she wanted money since we were supposedly sitting in front of her home. The Chinese tourists flat out refused to pay, but we gave her a little so she would leave us alone.
Sometimes it is tough to decide what to do: the amount asked is often so small considering our purchasing power! On the other hand, we now have an idea what locals earn, what things cost and then the perspective is different. We already experienced quotes that were 50 times the amount it should have been…