Our hostel is located in a small Hani village called Pugaolaozhai, inside Duoyishu, one of the places to see the sunrise over the rice terraces of Yuanyang. Going there requires us to take a 7-hour bus from Kunming which goes to the Old Yuanyang town, called Xinjiezhe, then bargain for the price of a 1-hour minivan to our destination. When we arrive at night, a traditionally dressed Hani woman walks us to the hostel crossing small stone alleys and bridges. The village where we stay and other villages will finally show us the rural China we were looking for, despite the touristy presence represented by multiple inns all around. Once at the hostel, a lovely old woman serves us dinner. There is no menu and nobody speaks English except Jacky—the owner of the hostel who is not around—so we do not dare to ask for vegetarian food.
The first day we wake up a bit late and there is nobody in the common areas of our hostel except for our host Jacky who is curious about what we have in mind for today. The guidebooks say that one of the best places to see the sunset is from the village of Bada. Jacky agrees and asks us to sit down in the dinner area with him. A white paper suddenly appears in the table and he starts drawing a super detailed map with directions to Bada between villages and what to look for to avoid getting lost. Despite being a bit late, the timing is perfect and there is even time to visit the market being hold in the next town.
The area of Yuanyang is inhabited by Hani and Yi people. Both can be clearly differentiated by their traditional costumes that they wear all around. The Yi wear colorful, embroidered dresses and cover their hair with also colorful scarves, while the Hani wear characteristic black or dark blue clothes also covering their heads with black or blue scarves. We take lunch at one small restaurant next to the market. A picture with the owners happens to be saved on our camera:
Bellies filled, it is time to start the path to Bada. At the beginning the path is paved between rice fields and there are some water buffaloes and people of all ages carrying huge baskets. We feel sissies with our small backpacks and move on passing through two small villages. There are some cute piglets, chicks, roosters and ducks all around that we can’t stop looking while locals look at us at the same time.
After the entrance of the second village we take a left on the fork as specified by our super map and trade the paved road with a beautiful dirt and stone path between fields—also with more water buffaloes, small villages and amazing scenery.
We finally arrive to Bada, which is a small village set next to a cliff with amazing views of the rice terraces. There is a touristy viewing point full of noisy people and selfies 15 minutes after Bada. Surprisingly, the views from the official viewing point are worse so we decide to come back to Bada to see the sunset with almost nobody. Some local adventurous kids are teasing Irene who is playing to catch them until one of them suddenly disappears down the cliff. Yells and cries can be heard from below while we panic trying to figure out where the kid has fallen. More kids and locals arrive and finally we discover the kid has fallen just 2 meters into some bushes. We help some locals to get down and rescue the kid who is perfectly fine to everyone’s relief. At the end it was just a shock that ended in laughs and we try to forget it with the amazing scenery. Phew.
The next and last full day in Yuanyang we wake up early to see the sunrise directly from our hostel balcony. There is a big stubborn cloud staying in the center of the picture but it is still worth it. Some local people is already working on the fields at 7 am and it is not precisely warm. We feel like sissies again while we go back to bed to sleep a bit more…
Later we wake up a bit late again and the same story repeats itself. Jacky is willing to help and draws us another super map to visit a local authentic Hani village hidden behind a first village some kilometers down the road. There is also a path after the village that we follow a bit between rice fields before going back to be driven to the hostel by some other Chinese visitors that found us amusing.