An overnight bus took us from Kunming to Jinghong, the capital of Xishuangbanna (for a map see here). This autonomous prefecture is far in the southwest of China and borders against Myanmar and Laos. Jinghong with a population of around 500,000 is a relaxed backpacker paradise with many nice restaurants and cheap hostels. It serves as a great base to explore the surrounding lush countryside. The town itself has a few small temples and several parks which make for a nice stroll, but the best is to leave the city centre and get a glimpse of the local life. The colourful markets with their hustle and bustle of friendly as well as hospitable people are definitely worth your time. We even got invited by a dentist to observe him treat a patient in the middle of the market! Later, a ferry took us across the mighty Mekong River to visit the vast tea plantations in the area.
After relaxing in Jinghong for two days, we already hopped on a bus again to nearby Sanchahe Nature Reserve. We wanted to get away from civilization and experience the quiet as well as solitude of nature… well, at least that was the plan! But you have to read the next post to learn what we experienced in this nature reserve!