Getting to know the countryside of China
Puer (普洱) is located southwest of Yunnan. It is an area known for being the place where the famous Puer tea is grown and named (普洱茶). To go from Kunming to Puer, you can take the bus at the south station of the city. We took it at 10pm and arrived around 6.30am. The trip itself is about 6 hours but the bus stops 3 hours for the driver to rest.
I took advantage of my first week of vacation for Christmas (only 4 days) to travel and this time with a few friends I had recently met in Kunming (two Spaniards and an Argentine).
What to do in the city of Puer?
On New Year’s Eve we arrived to the city of Puer. After checking in at the hotel, we went for a walk around the city. You could tell it was a place with few tourists since people were looking at us even more than usual. We did not find much interesting in the center so we decided to go to a village an hour and a half away from the city to see the tea fields where a friend had been recently.
We took the bus at 12:00 noon knowing that the last one to return to the city would pass by at 2:00 pm. After getting off the bus and walking for a while we finally arrived at the village. It was two o’clock and we already knew that we could not return by bus. Hitchhike back was the only option, staying there on New Year’s Eve without knowing where to sleep was not an option.
Visiting the tea fields of Puer
We still tried not to think about it and went to visit the house of a family that my friend Hector had met the first time he was there. They invited us to have tea with them. They didn’t speak Mandarin but a local dialect so communication was more than complicated.
After a while trying to communicate with the man of the house and explain our situation as we could, in the end, he was able to find us someone from the village to take us down before nightfall for about 200RMB, but not before offering us several times to stay at his house.
Once we were calm, we went for a walk around the tea fields and the village. After a while, we were invited to eat with the family and almost without realizing it we ended up getting drunk with baijiu (the most typical alcohol of China). It was homemade, so we couldn’t refuse it.
In the end, around 6 p.m. we went down to the city by truck. We were a bit drunk and very happy with the final result of our adventure. In the evening, we went for a barbecue dinner (very typical in China) and after the party to celebrate the new year in the only discotheque in town. Without a doubt we were the attraction of the night.
What to see around Puer?
Ninger, an authentic Chinese village
The next day we went to Ninger, to see Hector’s girlfriend, Ivy. The village is an hour from Puer, surrounded by mountains and, in my opinion, much nicer than Puer.
Just arriving we were invited to a popular meal and while we were swelling up to eat. Every now and then someone from the village would come and welcome us with a toast, of course with baijiu. After lunch the day went by normally, walking around the village while people were looking at us.
On the third day, we went to see a temple and barbecue at the river. Then we ate again, this time with Ivy’s friends and they kept inviting us to drink baijiu. In the evening, we went to party again. We were in a bar playing Chinese drinking games and ended up going to a pub where everything became blurred.
On the last day of the trip we visited a pagoda at the top of the mountain. Right next to it was a beautiful viewpoint. In the afternoon we decided to return to Kunming because, after four days we were a bit tired, especially after so much eating and drinking. If one thing became clear on this trip to Puer it is that the Chinese love to drink alcohol.
There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign. – Robert Louis Stevenson, The Silverado Squatters –