We spent a fairly uneventful day making the journey from Yiwu to Menghai and settling into our basic accommodation which we hoped to be able to use as a base for the next few days while we explored surrounding tea mountains. Next morning, we arose early and boarded a bus headed back towards Jinghong, backtracking a little, hoping to jump off half an hour down the road and hitch a lift up the track to Nannuoshan.
As it turned out, once again we had a little more good fortune on our side than we’d even dreamed of hoping for.
As the bus drew out of the station in Menghai, Kathy decided to phone one of the numbers we’d been given by some friends in Kunming of a farmer from Nannuoshan.
It turned out that the farmer, whose name was Erduo, was in Menghai, just a couple of minutes from the bus station. We rushed off the bus to the bemusement of driver and fellow passengers and within 10 minutes we were back on the road to Nannuoshan, this time in a comfy van instead of a crowded bus.
As we drove high into the mountains along a dirt track, I felt very glad to have this friendly guide. Who knows what experiences an alternative scenario would have yielded for us, but having some local knowledge on hand was once again proving invaluable.
We drove past the entrance to his village and up higher into the mountain in search of Nannuoshan’s 1000 year old tea tree. At some point we couldn’t go further, from here we would continue on foot. As we continued along the track gradually the usual forest vegetation beside the path began to change. First some small tea trees, then bigger ones, then some really huge ones. These were much much bigger trees than those we’d come across in Yiwu, and more similar to those I’d encountered in photograph form usually accompanied by someone standing proudly in front.
We took our obligatory tea-tourist photos standing in front of a few big trees, and continued on to find the one true “millenial old tea tree” that Nannuoshan could lay claim to. Unfortunately, for the makers of those bings which make claims of containing leaves from trees of this age, this tree isn’t picked. Being recognised as something of a local heritage piece, this tree has been surrounded by a barbed wire fence and is left to grow according to it’s natural cycle, without being of robbed of it’s leaves a few times a year.
Having seen this local treasure, we headed back to the van to return to Erduo’s house, where his wife and their mothers had produced a beautiful meal for us. Once again we feasted and relaxed in the friendly, open & genuine atmosphere of another tea farmer’s house.