Jinghong is a young city. If you want to know something historical about this area, you have to follow the minorities. The most prominent here are the Dai. One morning C. and D. take me to the mountain, at the foot of the river Lancang and a nameless sidearm, to show me the oldest part of this city.
Along the way, we only meet locals, who come here to draw drinking water from the ancient spring and carry it back to the city on their run-down mopeds. It differs from the Kunming Stone Forest. No experience is sold here. When we arrive at the holiest place of holy places, there is no ticket booth. Only the backdrop of an abandoned movie set awaits us. Again, nothing is original, but at least no one pretends that it is. Despite the numerous cinematic interventions in this place, the locals continue to use it. Undeterred, they hang garlands in the trees, hike to the various pagodas on the way to the palace, draw water from the sacred spring, and run a rubber plantation just behind it. It's the first one I see on my journey, and I'm fascinated. The trees have been skinned. Like a string of pearls, they grow in a row, the precious blood flowing down and is collected in the vessel attached to the bottom of the spiral. At least it looks like it will work that way. In truth, I have no idea. And since the mosquitoes look forward to our visit the most, we hurry back over the picturesque bridge to the mosquito-free palace.
C. and D. took precautions and brought bread and cakes from the supermarket in our building. With a great deal of enthusiasm, we devour the little feast and start our return journey. Going the same way up as down, I experience two different perspectives. On the way up, I didn't register the bus stop and the cable car. Both old, probably from before the cultural revolution, are well camouflaged by trees and weeds. It's a place that fascinates me. Time seems unnoticeable. New stuff over old stuff, any day. The result is a multilayered bush of artefact, nature and human development. Nothing is pre-packaged, no other tourists, only the steady stream of locals, coming and going, collecting their water.
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