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  • Writer's pictureErin Paulsen

YuanYang Rice Terraces, Yunnan, China

After all of our travels around SouthEast Asia for Chinese New Year, we weren't quite ready to settle back into the day to day life of living and working in Kunming. The weekend after we got back from Thailand and Cambodia we decided to take a beautiful little trip to southern Yunnan to see the rice terraces while they were still full of reflective water pools.

The first night we arrived, after a scary 7 hour bus ride up and around the mountains, we rushed from the town where the bus stop was to the smaller villages across the mountains to one of the scenic spots for watching the sunset. The masses of tourists was almost unbelievable, but the sunset and serenity of being above the clouds, overlooking such a beautiful scene was all worth it.

The view from our hostel, completely off of any sort of beaten path, was breath taking. Located at the back corner of the tiny village we were staying at, and overlooking a beautiful hillside full of terraces was such a magical place to wake up every morning with a perfect view of the sunrise over the mountains.

We woke up with the village workers and farmers, preparing for another day in the dry air under the brilliant warm sun. There was an hourly procession of harvesters walking around above the clouds to their respective terraces every morning, preparing for another long day, bent over pulling little rice plants from the terraces. Most of which would travel to far away places for other people to enjoy with their lunches and dinners.

The view from our guest house. So serene. So simple. Nature at her finest.

Despite all of the beautiful nature surrounding us everywhere we turned TJ and myself, the two laowai, or foreigners, seemed to be in as many tourists' photos as the rice terraces. Occasionally when we noticed all of the Beijingers snapping photos of us and our strange selves we would hand over our cameras to them as well and ask if they could take just one more photo for our own keeping. From our eyes the local villagers were the most fascinating people to observe. I suppose to all of the other Chinese people though, the two white kids were way more of a cultural standout than the locals dressed in their native garb.

Of course, where there are tourists, there are locals trying to sell their goods to you. These two women were the most persistent vendors i have ever encountered. They stayed with us and the poor Korean man who was taking pictures next to us for almost our entire time trying to observe the sunset. The Korean man spoke more English than Chinese so we were translating to these two native ladies for him. What a silly situation. They were trying to sell their labor to the man, offering to carry his photography equipment back up the mountain for him after the sun had set. 

Of course the obligatory picture of yoga in a new destination. I love this photo, the reflection in the rice terrace makes the whole picture. Walking around along the edges of the terraces was really fun. Keeping balance and making sure not to fall off down into the next terrace was also quite a challenge. The earth was nice and wet and mushy between your toes making any balance posture a little more challenging. 

Challenge excepted. Challenge accomplished. 

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