XISHUANGBANNA AND THE WA HILLS
First Stop: Kunming
We begin with two nights in Kunming and in our time there we will become familiar with Yunnan’s history and visit some of the historical relics in the city. We will also visit two museums to obtain some insight into the ethnic minorities we will meet on our journey—the Dai, Wa, Lahu, Bulang and Aini.
Second Stop: Jinghong
On our third day we will fly to Jinghong, the capital of Xishuangbanna Prefecture, in the morning. We will spend the day among the sights of Jinghong, such as Peacock Pond, the royal palm-lined streets, Manting Park and the central market. In the evening we will dine at one of the restaurants in the elegant Dai-style buildings along the river. We will be here for three nights.
Fourth Day: Jingne and Mengyang
As in our Kunming-Jinghong program, this day we will visit three kinds of Dai north of Jinghong. In and near Jingne town live the Buddhist Shui Dai, in exquisite traditional stilted wooden houses. Near Jingne are the animist Han Dai, who live in mid-brick houses on the ground and whose women wear elaborately embroidered sarongs. In the afternoon we go to Mengyang, close to villages of the animist Huayao Dai, whose women dress in the most colorful ensembles in the prefecture.
Fifth Day: Menghai County
This day’s program also follows that of the Kunming-Jinghong schedule. We begin with the Aini village of Nannuoshan, a major tea center, then proceed to Manluanhui, a Muslim Dai village, pass through Menghai city and continue to the Octagonal Pavilion and temple at Jingzhen. We then go south to Menghun, with a stop at the paper-making village of Manzhao, have lunch, and afterwards visit Ake and Bulang villages south of Menghun.
Third Stop: Jingmai Tea Mountain
On our sixth day we will drive west out of Xishuangbanna just into Lancang County to Jingmai Tea Mountain and spend one night here. Tea is one of the most important products of the prefecture, particularly the locally grown Pu’er brand of tea, whose quality increases with age. Much of the Banna highlands has been turned into tea gardens and enriched its cultivators. Here we will learn the entire process of preparing tea, from its growth through the different steps taken to produce various kinds of tea. We will also be in an area populated by different minority nationalities.
Fourth Stop: Menglian
On our seventh day we will drive to Menglian in the morning. The city straddles a river, with the original old Dai town on the western bank and the modern city on the opposite side. Menglian is a Dai, Lahu and Wa Autonomous County, but also home to two kinds of Aini in the eastern hills. We will visit the temples, neighborhoods and former ruling family’ s palace this day and stay two nights in Menglian.
Eighth Day: Menglian County Market Day
Menglian city and the several county townships hold market day every five days, so we will be within s short drive of any venue this day, if it is not in Menglian city itself. Ethnic minority women still favor their traditional apparel and dress their best on market days, often loaded with jewelry, making the scene particularly colorful and attractive. In mid-afternoon we will return to Menglian and see the promenade and park along the river in the new town.
Fifth Stop: Ximeng
Our ninth day begins with a drive to New Ximeng, capital of Ximeng Wa Autonomous County. This small city, relatively recently built, lies on the hill next to the Dai town of Mengsuo. After settling in, we will visit the old Dai temple in Mengsuo and then head for the picturesque lake beside Ximeng, backed by a forested hill.
After lunch we will visit the Wa cultural exhibits in the city. This includes recreations of the traditional log-drum houses, a small Wa village, also recreated but inhabited by Wa families, in traditional stilted wooden houses with open-air balcony and thatched roofs. A separate long building serves as a textile production center, where we can observe Wa women weaving cloth on simple back-strap looms.
Sixth Stop: Cangyuan
On our tenth day we drive to Cangyuan, capital of another Wa Autonomous County, passing by large, traditional Wa villages on our way. Cangyuan was originally a Dai town, which still accounts for a large part of the city. We will explore the old Dai quarter after our arrival and stay two nights in Cangyuan,
Eleventh Day: Cangyuan County
In the morning we go first to Menglai to see the ancient Wa rock paintings—primitive sketches of hunting and other activities, said to be two thousand years old. The nearby Stone Buddha Cave is our next stop. The rest of the day we will head a little west to see Buddhist Wa villages and the 600-year-old traditional Wa village of Wengding.
Seventh Stop: Lincang
Our twelfth day begins with a drive to Lincang, where we will stay one night. After reaching the city in the afternoon we will drive to Nanmei district, home to a very traditional branch of the Lahu minority nationality. They live in one-story wooden houses in villages on the slopes above their terraced fields. The females dress in heavily appliquéd side-fastened jackets and knee-length pants, quite different from other Lahu in Yunnan.
Day Thirteen: Return to Kunming
From Lincang we will fly back to Kunming and conclude our journey.
Kunming-Jinghong 516 km, Jinghong-Jingmai 136 km, Jingmai-Menglian 112 km, Menglian-Ximeng 57 km, Ximeng-Cangyaun 260 km, Cangyuan-Lincang 190 km