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2006-03-21 10:24:05

By jcrosby60

The tea fields

This region is possibly the birthplace of tea. It is definitely one of the most interesting regions in Yunnan, which is one of the most fascinating and mysterious places on earth. Go see for yourself before it changes forever.

Simao Prefecture is located in southern Yunnan Province, just north of Xishuangbanna. It is home to a dazzling array of diverse ethnic groups and is covered by forest for over a third of its area. Situated just below the Tropic of Cancer, and ranging over 1000 meters in altitude difference, Simao is one of East Asia's richest biodiversity hotspots. Experts believe that tea was first cultivated here, and enormous tea fields cover the hilltops in the shaows of vast primeval forest. As a major nexus along the Ancient Tea Route, Simao served as a meeting point for the cultures of Asia, and a conduit for the exchange of cultural knowledge.

The harvest

The 100,000 Acre tea field: this vast expanse of tea fields is surrounded by primeval forest and traversed by a narrow, well-paved road. It is an ideal place for driving and biking. Pu'er County: this is the king of tea regions and has many options for hiking along ancient caravan routes through the forest. Ximeng County: this county is dominated by the Wa people, an ancient ethnic group with a rich culture and history. They are best known as the headhunters of Burma.

What's really great: Wild raspberries, organic tea, rolling forested hills, cultural diversity, ancient sleeping villages and Thai-ish cuisine.

Harvesting honey - mmm!

Sights: This place is best seen by car or on bicycle. To be honest, you can set out from the capital in just about any direction and find something mindboggling. Be brave and try some of the side roads and footpaths. You never know what you'll find. 

Accommodations: The Prefecture seat (Simao) and the county seats are full of a wide range of accomodations. Make sure to take a look at the room before you pay. If you're in the countryside as the sun sinks behind the hills, have no fear. The locals will gladly put you up for the night, stuff your face with delicious food and get you totally plowed, if that's your thing.

5 star hotel

Hangouts: Though there are plenty of discos and karaoke, this place is sadly devoid of bars. For a good local-style night on the town, hit the night food markets for streetside barbecue and all you can drink. This is also the cheapest option. 
Other recommendations: The ancient caravan paths (the Tea Horse Road) are a must. They form a spider-web linking the entire region as they meander through villages, tea-fields and dense jungle. (Published on Thursday August 4th, 2005)

Edited by

Also on Tea Horse Road Sights






 Producer: Chu Daye & Peng Ran      Pagemaker: Wang Dandan      Designer: Avida