Yuanyang (元陽), Part Three

A festive village market is held twice every ten-day cycle according to the tribal calendar. People from the surrounding areas sell their livestocks, vegetables, fruits and many other things. It is a time for families to buy food and clothes and daily necessities. Also a great occasion to taste the local cuisine and street food.

On the fourth day, four young guests arrived and their presence altered the mood of the guesthouse. We had not encountered any foreigners on our trip so far and hearing them speaking in English sounded out of place yet refreshing at the same time.

We chatted with them at breakfast the next morning and learned that they are all from New York. We bumped into them again when we were in the nearby Yidoshu village (依多樹村). We ended up joining them and Greg, the owner of the guesthouse to see the clouds and terraces.

Layers of cloud sweep over the whole village we are staying early in the morning before giving way to the sun as it gets stronger

Even though we had watched the beautiful clouds for the past few days, I was still mesmerized by the way they ebbed and flowed – could feel serenity within me as the clouds approaching and I slowly immersed in and becoming part of it. Growing up in a city, most of us are so used to the mundane daily life and numb to what really happens around us. But here, I felt as if my senses had finally awoken and became sensitive to the continuous changing of the elements and constantly in awe of the different colours and shapes of things in nature.

As we precariously walked along the edge of the terraces and taking in the gorgeous view, we also got to know more about these lovely New Yorkers, Maggie, Melissa, Gordon and Igor. They truly exemplify the diversity of New York as they all come from different cultural backgrounds.

Took balance and practice to walk along the terraces
The first ray of sun in the morning woke up even the most sleepy souls.
We were so lucky to be enjoying this magnificent scenery.
The colour and light in the fields kept changing throughout the day.
A heavenly gate of the fields

In the next three days, we hiked, roamed around various villages and saw sunsets together. We talked about our different cultures, life experiences and hopes and dreams and I was touched by their youthful exuberance, curiosity and warm friendship among them.

Of all the things we did, the most memorable had to be our experience of the market day (趕集) in NiuJiaozhai (牛角寨). Our car was stuck in a small junction inside the marketplace for over 20 minutes and we were astonished by how the local drivers from both opposite directions magically inched their way out of the impossible tight spot to our left and right side. While we held our breath and thinking our car would be scratched or smashed into any second, all the drivers (including ours) were so calm and the locals just strolled past as if nothing was going on.

The Yi people (彝族) selling their tribal clothes. The embroidery of their clothes is more colourful and elaborate.
The attire of the Hani women (哈尼族) is more subdued with dark colours decorated with subtle matching patterns and buttons.
A young girl in her traditional Yi clothing (彝族) enjoying the festive market and holding a sugar coated plum.
Do you know how to pick a yummy bamboo shoot?
The proper way to shop and carry the fresh produce and livestock home
An elderly man going home after his visit to the market
Men working on the fields has very dark skin from the high altitude sun. Every villager we meet has straight body posture radiating good health from their active physical and social life as well as healthy diet.

We were told that the local barbecue was a must do. So we found our way into the centre of the market and saw the locals squatting and eating around the low tables with open grill in the middle covered with tofu cubes and meat. The ground was wet and covered with used tissues and god knows what. We looked at each other sheepishly. After a moment of hesitation, we decided, what the heck, we would go for it.

Notice the little black stone beads next to the grill? They are used to count how many tofus are consumed

Our driver helped us buy the pork and vegetables and we sat down at one of the more “decent looking” tables. The lady in charge marinated the pork in a plastic bag and splashed soy sauce over burning charcoal. We were entranced amidst the chaos of flames spewing out of the grill with choking smoke and strong aroma of burnt meat. It was an eye opening experience and I had to say that the barbecue was quite tasty.

Tasting the local sweet snack

We had a blast with the adventurous New Yorkers and through them we got a better idea of what growing up and working in New York is like. After four rather action-packed days, we said goodbye to them and returned to our leisurely pace and spent more time with our lovebird and cat.

Daisy chilling in the warmest spot in our room while we were out exploring

2 thoughts on “Yuanyang (元陽), Part Three

    1. Yeah, we are lucky to have met them and had such a great time together. Hope you and your family are well. We do miss HK!

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