The bus trip to Simao was short by comparison to my previous ones but still featured the usual Indian style driving, beeping when overtaking on blind corners and hair-pin bends with fag in one hand and mobile phone in the other. On one bus I did have to wear a belt as my seat had no other seat in front of it to catch me in case of emergency stopping. The fact that the seat belt could have fit two of me in it was irrelevant. Duty had been done. On no other occasion are seat belts thought to be needed. Nor are decent crash helmets. We witnessed a motor cyclist, on the wrong side of the road, hitting a car and his builder's helmet just flew off. Luckily he was OK.
Anyway, Simao seemed a friendly place, undergoing a lot of development like all the other towns I've seen. The students I met were of the same ilk as my own, friendly, courteous and welcoming.This was exemplified when we arrived on campus by a student insisting on paying for the milk Jayne was buying, despite her protests. She doesn't even teach him. She managed to stop a nother group of students paying for our meal when we joined them.
Jayne introduced me to her life in Simao. It's a tea producing area and we could see neat tea plantations from the view point at Cha Shan. We visited a local beauty spot at the end of the local number 1 bus route. a huge lake whch you can walk all the way round on actual tracks, not paved routes. If I go back in a couple of years I hope it's not paved with an admission charge. It's funny that admission charges in China are out of all proportion to daily life. 40 for the Botanical Gardens, 150 for the Stone Forest. This lake was so inviting that I went for a swim in it after Jayne told me others had done so and lived to tell the tale. My first swim in 4 months.
She also introduced me to the other foreigners in town, a couple of gapper girls working in schools, an amazing Cameroonian guy, an Australian miner in town temporarily.... She even took me clubbing! Yes, clubbing. Maybe my first time since the Ilford Palais many moons ago. It was free to go in but you had to buy a batch of beer every so often. I even danced! With a Chinese 'magician'. And got smoke in my eyes. Now I remember why I stopped going but it was fun as a one off and Jayne's friends were great.
My last challenge was to get back to Wenshan avoiding going to Kunming. This I managed to do with not too much trouble. Change at Kaiyuan, stay overnight, bus to Wenshan. easy. Usual problem of two bus stations. No problem to a seasoned traveller like me. Finding a hotel was trickier as the only one I found looked expensive . It started at 180 a night but I bargained it down to 8o. I'm learning. From there Wenshan, home for a day and a half, was just three and a half hours away.
Roll on Lijiang and Vietnam.