After being dropped of the bus and left in the pouring rain in Menghai we booked in the Nam Men Hotel in the center. We were checked in by two young receptionists, with whom we could communicate in English reasonably. We inquired about some sights that – according the information in the " Bradt" – would be worth while visiting the next day, and how we could go there by bike. It took some time before things were clear, but in the end they suggested that they would go with us, by bike! Not really beleiving that we had understood each other we agreed to meet in the lobby 10 o’clock in the morning. When we entered the lobby they were there waiting for us, not in their uniforms this time. And some minutes later we were off to the Tea demonstration garden, which appeared to be located some 7 kms outside the town. This region is extremely fit for tea cultivation, and many varieties are grown here. Everywhere you go you’ll see tea trees (bushes) on the slopes of the mountains. The world famous – in China – Pu’er tea is probably the most important species here.
We were 5 alltogether: Dai Xiao Fang, 20 years of age, was riding on the rear seat on het boy friend’s bike, Chen Jin Xiu, 18, was leading the group, and the two of us. The Tea garden is a huge terrain with a 7 km long road (they said) through tea plantations, different varieties with explanations on signs along the road. The route passes various pavillions, in each of which another minority people demonstrates another kind of tea and lets you have a taste. We spent hours in then garden and we drank huge quantities of tea, some very strong ones among them. We also saw how tea is picked, roasted, dried and pressed in cakes for transport and selling. The effort and research for improvement of the tea cultivation is impressive. A comparison with how serious people can be about wine is justified here. We concluded our educational and entertaing visit with a visit to a local monastry and a traditional Dai-lunch. We had a lovely day among the 5 of us and we are very grateful to Chen and especially Dai, who will be a very good tourist guide in the future, as we beleive.
For Chen and Dai there was work to do at 19.00: they were scheduled for the night shift at the reception desk.