On Tuesday morning, Michael dutifully headed off to his workshop and Diana and I walked back into the village (easier since we knew where it was this time). The walk is about 1/2 mile and you cross a beautiful suspension footbridge just before coming into town…..
The town of MengLun seems small and primitive but we were told that the population is around 40,000, which means that we are only seeing part of the town. Most of the people here are from the Dai ethnic group.
I had to laugh that the first shops that you see after the bridge are wedding shops featuring elegant dresses and suits……
Of course I was enamored with the Dai clothing and fabric shops. The fabrics were mostly gorgeous silks with gold brocade designs worked into them.
They would not sell a length of fabric but would only make it into a garment. I could have spent all day sitting here and watching this woman draw the design on the fabric. She was working from a written pattern that told the dimensions of the pieces that she needed to cut. All of the machines are treadle…..
….and the garments were gorgeous and were made from vibrant colors with touches of sparkle…..
Even the children’s clothes were wonderful….
…..and look at this elegant dress……
We walked a bit further down one of the main streets and came to our next shopping place…..the agricultural market……
The two little girls in the right lower corner followed us around and giggled for about 10 minutes!!!!!
This was the local yarn vendor. When I first saw these skeins, I thought that it was wool roving, but on closer inspection it was a very fine cording. I am guessing that it was made of silk….
Note that this fiber vendor also sold…..shoes!!!
We watched as a small truck parked in the back of the market and started bringing out HUGE baskets and bundles of vegetables……
Dont these look gorgeous…..
As soon as a basket was unloaded, people would rush over and start picking out their vegies. I figured that these may have been the restaurant owners selecting their menu for the day.
Having said that the vegetables look so good, I will add that the Chinese have no regulation over the use of fertilizers and pesticides so these are quite possibly covered with both. When we first arrived, there was a epidemic of exploding watermelons where too much growth hormone had been used and they were popping open in the stores.
One person commented that it was best to buy the buggiest and worst looking fruit that you could find because, “if it was good enough for the insects, it was good enough for you!!!”
These balanced baskets were a popular way of transporting goods. Doesn’t it make your shoulders ache to look at it!!!!
We came across this fire stove in the back of the market and the lady tending to it was putting a type of green bean into the door on the left…..
At the back of the stove was this vat with a distilled beverage siphoning out of it. It was then poured into the empty water bottles on the left and sold in the local stalls. We were served some of this later in the week and it proved to be VERY, VERY strong!!!
We came across several pans of these interesting looking delicacies, but could never figure out exactly what they were. I am thinking that they are a type of cooked egg, but the texture was very gelatinous. Oh well, they are still cool looking…..
This next photo is actually one half of a grand table that was filled with spices. Each little bin held a different spice or dried herb. The smell was intoxicating…..
When leaving the market, we spied the local supermarket and, because we were on a hunt for chocolate, we had to go and visit.
I loved walking down the snack isle. You could choose from marshmallow bears……
…..dried and spiced whole fish……
……or bags of chicken feet……dont these look yummy!!!!
They eat very little chocolate, but love these little packages of Jello-like concoctions. I didn’t eat one, but were told that they were fairly gross…..
This supermarket also sold some clothes and I really liked this section of women’s shoes. This particular style is very popular and you can see from the photo that most of them have some sort of “bling” as well….
The one thing that kills the fashion statement is that they wear ankle high nylons with these which reminds me too much of old women with their knee-highs rolled down!!!!
We found a bit of chocolate….I bought a pack of cookies that l0oked like Oreos (sadly, the resemblance did not extend to the flavor) and was also excited to find cans of Coke Zero.
Diana and I had lunch at our favorite Fried Rice and Juice restaurant but enjoyed our Cokes with the meal.
By the way, much of this morning’s trip was done under umbrellas as there were consistent “pop-up” showers. It was very refreshing to have the rain roll thru and it felt good to have it splashing on our “tropically” hot legs and feet.
After a walk back to the hotel (and a quick nap), we walked to the trolley station and caught a ride to the research building where the meetings were being held. After they finished with the talks, we took a ride around the garden and it was fun to see other areas that needed to be visited on future days.
We ended up at the “Rain Forest Lodge” which is an open-air, covered deck and were greeted with this lovely sight……
So you can get a little perspective, the table is about 2 feet tall and the stools sat a mere 12 inches above the floor. It made for an interesting experience with our very long American legs!!!!
About halfway thru the dinner, various women, dressed in gorgeous costumes, started coming out of a side room. They were to be our entertainment for the evening. I laughed at one of them madly taking photos of US as we were the curiosity there!!!!
We found out that they were a group of Dai dancers and that they were going to perform some of the dances that were native to their people. The women were gorgeous and their costumes were delightful…..
It was fun to realize that we had seen many of these dances at the “Dynamic Yunnan” performance that we had seen in Kunming. Obviously these were not as professionally performed, but it was so much fun to see their faces and expressions as they danced. In the introduction, it was said that they were not professional dancers, but that their smiles were genuine.
After the first dance, they came to our tables and tied a red string around our wrists, saying that we were now “tied” to Xishuangbanna and would have to return again.
Here is their rendition of the “Peacock Dance”. I was interesting that the costume was almost exactly the same…..
…..and this dance was performed in almost the exact same manner as in “DY”…..
Sometime in between songs, the waitresses started to clear the table, and then brought out MORE food. These were mostly meats cooked in the Dai Barbeque style.
Once again, the food was wonderful, but were all too full to eat much of this surprise second course.
In between the songs we
endured enjoyed Michael’s and my personal hell…..karaoke!!!! First some Chinese songs and then a bit of John Denver. Since then we have talked to another person who loved the song “Country Roads” and he said that it was very popular after Denver visited China. It is obvious that he made a lasting impression on this country.
The final dance of the evening was the dance of the “Long Fingers”. It was very cool how they used the “fingers” to add motion and interest to the dance.
Of course, the only thing that I could think of here was …..”Stop….in the name of love”……..
The last song brought out all of the dancers and of course the invited speakers had to participate too. It was NOT a pretty sight and apparently there are some blackmail photos out there that haven’t yet surfaced. I am thinking that we will be willing to pay GOOD money to cover them up!!