Bingzhongluo Yunnan Province
Map: Magical Peach Island on the first bend of the Nujiang River near Bingzhongluo in Yunnan Province.
From the viewpoint over looking the Nujiang River 怒江 (Salween River in English) just before entering Bingzhongluo, the last administrative center before Tibet, there is an incredible view over what the Chinese call Peach Island 桃花岛.
Actually, it is not an island, but a flat tongue of emerald land that forms the first bend in the Nujiang River, it is only accessible via a swaying footbridge from Bingzhongluo.
Finding the path down to the bridge is no easy matter. It doesn’t start from the viewpoint, but from the center of Bingzhongluo (ask the locals to show you the way).
The step walk down can test your knees. Once on the island there is some lovely walking.
You can choose between exploring the one and only village, strolling through the orchards of peach trees, or the more adventurous can scramble up the ridge of the mountain the tumbles down to form Peach Island.
The residents are from the Nu minority 怒族 and seem pretty unperturbed by visitors coming to gawp at them and their houses.
The children fight with each other to pose for photos and are eager to show off their basketball skills; which I must say are incredibly good.
My advice for visiting Peach Island is to prepare a picnic with supplies bought from Bingzhongluo, find a secluded spot by the river and chill out and enjoy this magical spot.
Are there any draw backs? Those with arachnophopia don’t go in the houses. The spiders are spectacular and there’s lots of them.
All accommodation / food and transport is in Bingzhongluo
Guide books recommend the Chama Guesthouse 茶马客站, but all locals will point you to the new Yu Dong Hotel directly opposite. It’s a very clean (for now), spacious hotel with great views and a friendly, pot-bellied, chain-smoking owner. Rooms go for around 60 to 80 Yuan and 140 for the suite. Some bargaining is possible for longer stays.
There are more options now as Chinese tourists have begun coming in increasing numbers.
The Niurou 牛肉饭店(beef) Restaurant
Again, all locals will point to the Niurou 牛肉饭店(beef) Restaurant, a simple affaire run by a friendly young Muslim and his wife. The restaurant is a bout 200 meters north along the road of the Yudong Bingguan.The food is pretty good and not limited to Niurou at all.
They always had a good and varied selection of fresh vegetables. If you are staying for a few days you can ask them to pick up different veggies for you in the market. The local wild mushrooms are great as is his tangy and spicy cucumber salad.
Near the market is local restaurant run by a welcoming lady. We found this the best place for breakfast. Her fried egg and tomato dish and noodle soup were just what you needed before embarking on a long walk.
Again there are more options now.
Getting there and away
Getting to Bingzhongluo is pretty straight forward; weather and road conditions permitting. There is one direct bus in the morning from Liuku 六库, from the bus station on the left bank of the Nujiang River (See previous article) plus there are frequent options to Gongshan 贡山 from where onward transport to Bingzhongluo is frequent. Mini buses go until relatively late in the evening, but you would miss all the stunning scenery in the dark.
Leaving town, there is one direct bus at 8.00 in the morning to Liuku 六库. It is a good idea to get the owner of the Yu Dong Hotel to buy tickets for you in advance. The bus parks overnight in the hotel compound. However, should the bus be full, there is frequent transport to Gongshan 贡山 from where you can get buses throughout the day to Fugong 福贡 or Liuku六库.
Beyond Qiunatong 秋那通 the paved road converts into a dirt track above the Nujiang River (Recently, the authorites have paved this road, but it is still prone to landslides and Foreigners are restricted to the border with Tibet). It is difficult to tell where Yunnan ends and Tibet begins. We walked for several hours along the dirt road and only saw a few locals. After about 3 or 4 hours, you will come to a point where all the snow- covered peaks come into view if the weather is kind.