Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Xishuangbanna

On Sunday we climbed down the 5 flights of stairs for one LAST time and caught a plane to the Xishaungbanna (pronounced Si-shwa-bah-nah) Tropical Botanical Garden.   This area is at 21 degrees Latitude and is part of the tropical rainforest areas of the world.   It is easily the most beautiful place that I have ever visited!!!

But more about that in days to come….first about the trip…..

The flight from Kunming only took about 45 minutes so we pretty much ascended to altitude and then started descending!!

As we looked out of the windows, we could see huge mountains and lots and lots of green!!!  On the mountains you could see terraces built into the side and each terrace was filled with plants….mostly rubber trees.

IMG_0408 The river in this photo is the Mekong, although it is not known by that name here.

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We landed at a very small airport and walked across the tarmac to the terminal.  The first thing that hit us was the heat and humidity.  It seemed stifling at the time, but we have quickly become accustomed to it and it doesn’t seem to bother us now.IMG_0420

We were met at the airport by 3 graduate students who put us and our bags on a small bus and told us that we were traveling to a restaurant and would be met there by three other students!! 

When we arrived at the restaurant, we met Jeff, a scientist from California.  We looked at the menu which contained a lot of Western foods, but decided instead to have Thai food.  Michael had a Massaman Curry but asked for extra peppers.  They said that they couldn’t add more peppers, so instead they poured chili sauce over the top!!!   IMG_0423 

I ordered Chicken and Cashews which was not spicy but was SO good.  IMG_0424

And, of course, we ordered a bottle of local beer…..IMG_0425

All of the beer here is very light and doesn’t contain a lot of  alcohol.  Consequently, it is very refreshing!!!

We were there for a couple of hours, waiting for other scientists to arrive on various planes.   The next to come were David and Diana.  Diana is NOT a scientist and was very glad to hear that I was not either.

After everyone arrived, we returned to the bus for the one hour drive to the Tropical Botanical Garden.

The first part of the drive was in the small city.  I never found out the name of the city but I would love to have a couple of days to explore it.   There were sculptures on many of the corners and the landscaping was wonderful.

I took the following photo because of the two ladies with red hats on the corner, but when I looked at it, I really like the auto-rickshaw driver who is laid back and taking his afternoon siesta…..

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I loved these structures, but I am not sure if they are houses or part of a temple complex…… IMG_0430

In this photo, you can see the terraces along the hills.IMG_0439 

As we got closer to the mountains, you could see that there were not only rubber trees, but also corn and other crops.

Many of the valleys were filled with rice paddies…..IMG_0442 As we had seen before, they do not waste a single inch of land!!!!

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We arrived at the garden and were driven to our hotel.   It is fairly old and, if you really look at it, the structure is decaying.  However, the room is clean, has air conditioning, and there is internet in the lobby….I mean, really, what more can you ask for!!!!

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And, this is the view from our “deck”……

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There was a “mixer” for the conference attendees on Sunday night and we enjoyed meeting people from all parts of the world.   We met up again with Chuck and his wife who spend 3 months a year here and the rest of the time at Texas Tech.  We also made new friends with Manuel and Bonnie (from University of Virginia) who are here for three months with their THREE kids.

We fell into bed and reveled in the air conditioning, the quietness of the room and the softness of the bed!!!!

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