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The Water Festival

Updated: May 17, 2023

This mountain path looks across the Jinsha River at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. I miss it there. Years ago, I ventured into Yunnan and hiked Tiger Leaping Gorge. After out-witting the men on donkeys who pressured us to pay them for a ride, we hiked for like 10 hours in the scorching heat. I probably lost 10 pounds in sweat, even though I ate oranges and bananas all day. I was so relieved after arriving at a bungalow for the night. I took a shower in the 33-degree water that felt like glacial melt. Later, someone heated up the water for showers. Two hours later, after dinner, the water was hot.

The bungalow overlooked the Jinsha River, with stunning views of Mount Yulong. I could have stayed there for weeks. I headed up to Shangri-La for a few days. It was super cold, high elevation, but I still loved it there. First time having grilled Yak and Yak milk tea.

It was years later when I finally made it south to Xishuangbanna, a region famous for tea, water festivals, unique ethnic cultures, and ancient trade routes. It borders Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Spicy noodle soups are everywhere. Tea shops are on every corner. Scooters are the best way for cruising around town, and you can rent cars for longer distance -- although that can be more of a challenge for wàiguó rén.



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