It was a tough decision but in the end I went for the banana pancake rather than the fruit salad with mayonnaise for breakfast. Fusion cuisine I’ll go for, but violent collision cuisine is a plate too far.

“Are you OK to cycle through town?” asked my guide, William. “Oh sure, I used to cycle in London”. Well, alright then, except that in London there is a Highway Code, which people pretty much stick to, whereas here even driving on the right isn’t mandatory if it looks easier on the left. Turning left requires nerves of steel as there are no lines on the road, no-one stops and there are pedestrians, bikes, mopeds, cars and lorries all competing for road space. I don’t even know how we got round the roundabout – I decided it was best to stick like glue to William’s side and not look at the traffic. Things got more peaceful once we hit the country roads and, mercifully, flat, because the huge cliff-sided hills sit like pieces on a chessboard.

Shrine in traditional home

Shrine in traditional home

I was taken to a traditional house and shown round by the owner. Guess what? The beds really are floorboards! It was all rather charming, with one room functioning as living room, dining room and shrine to the ancestors. They have their own well and soya bean press, and numerous members of the family share the space.


Next up was a ride on a bamboo raft, advertised as a nice relaxing way to see the country. The raft is made of 10 bamboo lashed together, with a couple of deckchairs lashed on top, floated along by a man with a pole.

I settled in for a bit of photography and filming, but shortly we came to a concrete trackway blocking the river. We had to get out, drag the raft across and then set it in the water, about 6 feet lower than on the upstream side. It got worse: at the next trackway, I was expected to stay in my deckchair for re-entry into the water. Luckily I only had my video, camera, phone and wallet, so nothing that really minds getting wet! We went over several of these water slides, each time the raft sinking about a foot into the water on entry. It was all quite exciting and the scenery was magnificent, but I think a little warning of the 100% chance of getting wet wouldn’t go amiss.

Relaxing rafting

Relaxing rafting

Tonight it is misty and wet so surely time for an outdoor theatrical extravaganza. With the stunning backdrop of the hills and on a water stage, Zhang Yimou, the creator of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony presented the spectacular Liu Sanjie sound and light show with a cast of hundreds, along with a few buffalo. It was all very beautiful and well done but it did rain a lot, so I returned home rather bedraggled.


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