Heshun Old Town
Heshun Old Town is in Tengchong.
Heshun Old Town is in the southwest of Tengchong county, 3km from the downtown area. Its old name is Yangwentun (阳温暾), which literally means sunshine and warm water, quite a snapshot of this old town.
Tengchong county is in Baoshan prefecture, western part of Yunnan province.
Heshun Old Town is surrounded by a river and built along the slope of a hill. The town extends about 3km horizontally. Since the early of Ming dynasty, ethic Han-Chinese from inland migrated to this place for military presence. Later, the town got prosperous from international trade business as it's the must-go-through site on the old Silk road.
Travelers usually get to Kunming first. Then you can take a one-hour flight from Kunming to Tengchong Tuofeng Airport directly, but the fares are as much as the ones from Beijing to Kunming, although the distances make a big difference. There are flights between Tengchong and other cities like Lijiang(丽江), Xishuangbanna(西双版纳), Chengdu, Shanghai, Beijing, etc. But seats are often fully taken without much discounted price.
For budget travelers, you could choose long-distance bus from Kunming to Tengchong, about 10 hours, costing around CNY200. Alternatively, 45-minute flight from Kunming to Baoshan, then 3.5-hour bus from Baoshan airport to Tengchong Tourist Terminal. Due to the use of Tengchong Tuofeng Airport, the flight fares per Kunming to Baoshan are often as cheap as CNY99, airport charges and fees excluded. The highway from Baoshan to Tengchong has almost been finished. It's open to small vehicles now and could save the time to 2 hours.
Ask the staff of your accommodation to arrange a car to pick you up from the terminal door to door, especially when you decide to lodge inside the old town. CNY20-30 will save you much trouble to find the your guesthouse as the lanes seem to be so complicated to a stranger. You will find your own reference to locations or directions after you spend half a day wandering around.
you could rent or share a van with other travelers to cover the following places of interest. Van rental with a driver costs CNY200-300/day. It could take you to visit 2-3 places as a daily package.
The Heshun Old Town ticket costs CNY80 and half price promotion for students and seniors. With the ticket, you could visit the Library, Museum of Yunnan-Burmese Anti-Janpanese War(滇缅抗战博物馆), Heshun Lane, Wanlouzi Museum(弯楼子博物馆）, vaious temples and ancestral halls. As Cun(寸), Li(李),Yin(尹), Liu(刘) and Jia(贾) have been quite old families since migration dated back to AD1382, they all have their own ancestral halls as icons.
After you enter the main gateway of the old town, you will see a delicate pavilion named Yuzhou(雨洲亭) in the middle of the lotus pond. The zip aisle connects it to the street. Follow the street to the Twin Rainbow Bridges(双虹桥). There are 3 memorial gateways by the sides of the river, after which stands the Library and Wenchang Temple (文昌宫) From here, you've already walked into the old world.
Heshun Lane is a newly built area with teahouses and pubs inside. After 5:30pm, entry is allowed without a ticket. It's like a quiet park for dusk walk along the wetland pond. You could have a seat by the side of the river, just to watch the wild ducks passing by, lotus swaying to the breeze, white egrets flying against the glowing sunset sky.
If you ask, most of the residents will friendly invite you in and show around their residential houses and courtyards. Some of them are more than 200 years old but well preserved. The architecture still follows the ancient style of Ming/Qing dynasty(明清).
Washing pavilions(洗衣亭) have unique background story in this old town. There are a dozen of them along the river. As the tradition, most Heshun adult men had to go abroad for business to raise the whole family just after they got married. So they built the washing pavilions for their wives for shading while washing clothes along the river. When they were away from families, this was the only protection they could offer to the lovers. Young wives also waited there to expect the early return of the husbands. Yet someone could have been dead halfway abroad or buried in foreign countries and never returned, the widow would lead a lonely life till death. Then her families would build up a memorial gateway as a good example for other women to follow. You could stand below one of the memorial gateways to imagine those tragic romance.
Relax and walk along any stone lanes, stop at various residential houses as far as you like.
If you are interested in jade jewellery, visit the shops along the outskirt street of the old town. But there is no standard to price a jade stone as an old Chinese saying, "No price for jade". It could be worthless to someone, it could also be priceless to another.
Breakfast could be taken at your guesthouse, only if you tell the staff your choice in advance of one night. A better idea is to sit by a stand to enjoy your breakfast with locals, like a local. There are a line of breakfast stands near the Twin Rainbow Bridges. Fried Erkuai(炒饵块)and rice noodle(米线)are quite common breakfast choices for the locals. You could also add different oil sources to enhance the flavour. Enjoy your breakfast in front of the wide green fields. There are natural ingredients hardly found somewhere else, like the simple happy smile on the same table.
There are restaurants along any lane only you can find it. Most guesthouses could also prepare lunch or dinner. Usually they hang a white board of menu to the gate. Some traditional local food are:
Most vegetables are edible wild leaves or herbs. Try some fresh taste and it won't take as much courage as eating bugs. If you don't like spicy food, tell the chef "Bu Yeow La" (No chilli).
Local home-made wines are presented in almost every restaurant and pub. The names are often quite romantic, such as Memories of the Past(忆当年), Pretty Girl(女儿媚), Lover's Tear(情人泪), Bitter Missing(相思苦). Pretty Girl is a mild brew of local plums while others are of wild herb fruits.