My bus to Jinghong from Kunming rolled out about 12 noon and arrived in Jinghong about eight or nine in the evening. I had been planning to homestay, but the person didn’t live in town, but rather an hour outside of it by bus and the last bus left at 6. I wandered down the street, looking for an ATM or a cheap hostel. I asked some men seated on a corner at dinner, and they gestured down the street.
I couldn’t find an ATM, and had 30RMB to my name. I pulled into a hotel set back from the street, behind a street BBQ station and begged the girl to let me stay. She agreed, and gave me the key to the room. For the life of me, I couldn’t open the door. As I was tugging on the handle, trying to yank it open, I accidentally snapped the key off. Whoops! I had to trudge back downstairs and ask for another. I felt horrible. But they gave me another room, albeit without WIFI. Apparently you have to twist and lift the handle somehow, but I just elected to not shut the door again, ha.
I had to go sit upstairs in the hallway to get WIFI, but it wasn’t too bad, there wasn’t anyone around. My bus was set to leave at 8AM, but I needed to get money ahead of time, so I set an early alarm for 6. I was up at the crack of dawn, lumbering through the streets looking for an ATM, but I couldn’t find one. I wandered and wandered, but there was nothing.
I circled back to the bus station, but I had missed my bus. I then attempted to charter a tuk-tuk driver to take me to an ATM, but he couldn’t understand me, even though I drew the logo and wrote the name. He drove me around the town to various credit unions, and kept forcing me to go inside, even when I told him it didn’t work. Finally he came in with me, and the bank worker told him where to take me. The driver told me it would cost 30RMB. I said it was way too much. Then he wanted his fare now, but I didn’t have it.
Then he was really mad. I told him 30 to go to the ATM and back to the bus station and he agreed. He took me to the ATM, which was not far at all, and I pulled out money and paid him. BAD CHOICE. He tried to leave me again, and I stopped him and reminded him that he agreed to take me back to the bus station, but he shook me off and tried to throw my stuff out. He made me pay another 15RMB to get back to the station, and I was so pissed. We probably both looked angry by the time we rolled up, because an old lady asked what was wrong, and old man unleashed a withering diatribe. I haughtily collected my things and then dropped my phone on the ground, which exploded apart.
Then I sat in the bus station until the bus came. It cost 70RMB to get to Luang Namtha in Laos, which seemed reasonable. The bus was comfortable and the whole back was empty, so I just took a nap. We pulled over right before we hit Laos for lunch, but I couldn’t understand what the man was saying, so I assumed it was just a short break. It’s so stressful to not know when the bus is leaving, because you don’t know if you can have a sit-down lunch or just grab some snacks. I was so nervous, I was out wandering through the parking lot looking for our bus, which wasn’t there. Then I was really freaking out.
Finally, a young man took pity on me and tried to explain that the bus was coming back soon. And it did, stuffed to the gills with bags and sacks. I no longer had a backseat lounge, haha. I’m not sure what we were trafficking, but there was definitely radishes next to me.
If you have some time, Jinghong and the Xishuangbanna area is incredibly beautiful. Just like Laos, but whilst you’re still in China. Stepped rice paddies, jungles, steamy, flowers, rice snacks–it’s probably the most laid-back area in China. There’s a botanical garden, I read, but I didn’t have a chance to visit, obviously. You should definitely complete your Chinese travel here.
It’s also the Pu-Er region of China, so it’s crammed with tea fields, and signs warning people off from picking the tea illegally. Highly picturesque, and I’m sure the tea is cheap.