The Hid­den Trea­sure: Baimei Vil­lage

China's Foreign Trade (English) - - This is China - By Ning

Bamei is a vil­lage hid­den in re­mote moun­tains of Yun’nan Prov­ince. The only way of get­ting to this hid­den trea­sure is to take a boat through the dark cave at the end of which there is a bright world full of peace and beauty. Any­one see­ing pho­tos of the en­trance to this amaz­ing world will surely be at­tracted. So was I.

Travel to Bamei is never easy

There is one long dis­tance bus from Kun­ming, the cap­i­tal of Yun’nan, for the start of the Bamei journey. It departs at 7: 40pm and ar­rives at Guang­nan, the clos­est county to Bamei, at around 7am the next morn­ing. Buses to Bamei departs from Guang­nan ev­ery hour. The travel to Bamei is never easy. Af­ter one night and over one-hour bus trip, I fi­nally fin­ished the road trip and tried to find the boat to Bamei. From the bus stop, I walked along the river till one cave with over a dozen boats wait­ing there ap­peared from nowhere. The ticket for tourists in­cludes three boat trips and one car­riage ride. I shared the boat with about ten vil­lagers. The small boat was like a leaf float­ing in­side the dark cave. With no one talk­ing, the soft bub­bling of wa­ter sounded so clear that I al­most saw the sharp boat head cut through the wa­ter. Some lights shed on the stones in wa­ter, but the boat just danced around them. The cave seemed to be big­ger and deeper in­side. Sud­denly, the clear im­age of bam­boo and a big wooden wa­ter­wheel was un­veiled in the un­ex­pected bright­ness with its shadow in the clear wa­ter. Here we are, Bamei, the hid­den trea­sure.

Boat trip

Water­wheels are like sym­bols of Bamei, scat­ter­ing ev­ery­where. Vil­lagers have their wooden houses be­sides peach blos­soms and tall trees. The sim­ple ac­com­mo­da­tion may frighten some for­eign­ers away since there is no toi­let bowl, shower or bath­tub. I

found one small com­fort­able room on the sec­ond floor of a lo­cal res­i­dence. Luck­ily, elec­tric­ity is sup­plied here, but there is no wifi nor is there a good phone con­nec­tion. Look­ing out of the win­dow frame with no glass, the river runs through the vil­lage. The host told me the up­per sec­tion was for men while the lower sec­tion was for women, if you want a bath or wash, just go to the proper sec­tion. Some kids were play­ing in the river with ducks. In this peace­ful place, there is no need to worry about rob­bery or steal­ing. I put my lug­gage un­der the bed and went on a tour around. The sec­ond boat trip was not as ex­cit­ing as the first one. The boat floated slowly along the river un­der the shade of green trees. Some­times we needed to push the branches stick­ing out over the wa­ter away. All the clouds, trees and flow­ers stayed mo­tion­less, like in a dream. Some horses were eat­ing grass on the river­bank. That’s the place for car­riage rides. The car­riage was sim­ple with two long stools in­side and the road was quite bumpy. The ride was not so pleas­ant. Soon, the ride was over and we ar­rived at the other end of Bamei where the third boat trip through another cave would take tourists to get buses to Guang­nan which of­fers bet­ter ac­com­mo­da­tion. How­ever, I had de­cided to stay in Bamei in­stead.

The two caves have dif­fer­ent names. The first boat trip is through Taoyuan Cave, while the third boat trip is through Wen’na Cave. The lat­ter is more spa­cious, but still dark. Some­times, I could feel some­thing f ly over, maybe birds or bats. The stones are in strange shapes and bear dif­fer­ent names. The boat trip ends in an open lake with cold and green wa­ter. A strange feel­ing stirred me, one step for­ward and I would be back to the mod­ern world, but I chose not to. Boat­men were hav­ing their din­ner. I told them I’d like a boat back. One boat­man jumped in wa­ter and got some

Water­wheels are like sym­bols of Bamei, scat­ter­ing ev­ery­where.

vil­lagers in the boat. This time they laughed and talked loudly in the dark cave, which made it kind of feel like I was go­ing home.

Peace­ful vil­lage

I bought some bar­beque fish and pick­led veg­etable at the lo­cal stalls, eat­ing and wait­ing for the car­riage back. The horse was quite re­luc­tant to go, jump­ing and bit­ing, but soon sur­ren­dered to the owner, an old tough man. I was the only tourist stay­ing, so he knew where to go and dropped me at the cen­tre of the vil­lage. Af­ter a day’s la­bor, peo­ple were re­lax­ing in the river, naughty kids run­ning, women wash­ing clothes and men fish­ing.

There were three gen­er­a­tions in the house in which I stayed. The old granny could not speak mandarin. She smiled and climbed to the stor­age at­tic floor, back with two small ap­ples to share with me. The lit­tle boy ran around, jumped in and out of the river. The par­ents were busy with their chick­ens, ducks and pigs. Fi­nally, I de­cided to en­joy the cool river as well. It was not easy to step over the mud and get into wa­ter. The so-called man sec­tion and woman sec­tion are so close to each other that I could only try to hide in wa­ter or be­hind a tree to fin­ish my bath. The young wife hur­ried to pre­pare din­ner and in­vited me to share the fam­ily din­ner, but women are not al­lowed to eat to­gether with the men. The granny and the wife had to wait un­til af­ter the men fin­ished eat­ing and drink­ing, which made me feel sorry

for them and a lit­tle bit un­com­fort­able. Af­ter din­ner, the granny and the wife cleaned and started em­broi­dery with beau­ti­ful col­ors. The night was so quiet that I soon felt asleep to their low-voice chat­ting.

The next morn­ing, all the vil­lagers got up early and dressed well, men in black shirt with white broi­dery and women in blue or grey shirt with colour­ful broi­dery. Chick­ens and ducks were caged and ready to go. It was the lo­cal mar­ket day. All the boats were full of vil­lagers. Their happy chat­ting and laugh­ing sent swal­lows rush­ing out of the cave. In a lo­cal folk story, Bamei was first ex­posed on a mar­ket day like this. One old man vis­ited the lo­cal mar­ket out­side the cave fre­quently, telling no one where he was from. Cu­ri­ous peo­ple dug a small hole in his salt bag and traced it all the way to the cave.

One old man vis­ited the lo­cal mar­ket out­side the cave fre­quently, telling no one where he was from. Cu­ri­ous peo­ple dug a small hole in his salt bag and traced all the way to the cave.

Du r ing win­ter my onebed­room, 45sqm apart­ment trans­formed into a twobed­room, yet still 45sqm, apart­ment. Months ear­lier, my part­ner’s mother thrilled us at the news that she would be com­ing over to visit and ex­plore China with us. As fast as the news was of­fi­cial, we chaot­i­cally scram­bled to buy up on JD var­i­ous ne­ces­si­ties like ex­tra toi­let pa­per, ex­tra power strips, and the much needed bed she would be need­ing to sleep in when we trans­formed our liv­ing room into an im­promptu bed­room. Day zero of the month long trip soon ar­rived on our cal­en­dar, and as soon as she stepped off the plane we im­me­di­ately be­gan to show off what our daily life in this fast­paced city is like, and we dis­cov­ered how some­one new could give us unique

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