Created: 14 January 2009
In the States, as you get older and are no longer a sexy teenager who attracts all sorts of whistles, you acquire the gift of anonymity, the ability to walk down the street or go into a store or restaurant, and have no one really notice you are there, if you don't want. Here, in China, anonymity is totally impossible and you are rather like Ling Ling in the Washington Zoo. Last night at dinner, a little girl spent the entire time on her haunches in front of my table just staring at me. At the botanical garden, I was rarer than the rarest plant.
Tea - It turns out that Xishuangbanna has one of China's 10 great teas - Puer Tea, that sells for $90/kilo. There is a clunk of this tea about the size of Charlie Brown's great pumpkin that is 1000 years old and resides in the Beijing Museum. Here in the area there is a tea tree that is 1700 years old, and people trek through the jungle to pay it homage. They no longer pick the leaves. Rather, like a good stud horse, it has been left to thrive in the rainforest.
They make tea a bit differently here, rolling the leaves into small clumps that open up in hot water. Every Chinese has his special tea bottle of some strange color with all sorts of leaves floating around. What I can't figure out is why, with all the good tea in the area, all restaurants serve the low grade teas of a very uncertain color.