Banqiao Old Town @ Baoshan

Yesterday I made a plan that I would take the bus from Baoshan to Dali, however before doing so I would make a visit to Banqiao Old Town. This is a small attraction just north of the city, and used to be a important hub for trading along the Old Tea and Horse Road.

This morning I made my way over to the bus station at noon and purchased my ticket for the bus leaving at 3:50pm. Afterward I walked up to the taxi stand and asked how much to Banqiao, the guy I was negotiating with told me he wouldn't use meter and wanted to charge 50 rmb there and back to the station. This price sounded ridiculous to me so I walked out onto the road determined to find my own way.

I talked to a couple taxis on the side of the road and here I was getting even worse answers then at the taxi stand, everyone said 50 rmb one way. Rather then negotiating, the next cab that pulled up, I just told them to turn the meter on, go straight and then turn right on the main road going north. This was working quite well until we got about half of the way there, at this point he asked for the location and I thought it would be safe to tell him now. I was wrong, we argued for a couple minutes and then I gave the 10 rmb that had accumulated on the meter and got out of the cab in a pretty desolate area near the north edge of town.

No taxis were even driving on this road so I began to wonder if I should have gone with the first driver's price after all, however nearby there was a bus stop so I decided to go check it out. After a couple minutes I was able to match the Chinese characters I'd photoed from google with one of the stop names on the bust stop chart. Eventually bus no 5 pulled up and I paid my 1 rmb and got in. The audio announcements weren't the least bit understandable so I was a bit worried I might miss the Banqiao stop, to prevent a miss I tapped the lady in front of me on the shoulder. She was very interested to know why I was on this bus, and after asking me a series of questions she agreed to help me find the right stop.

Five minutes later she gave the cue and I followed her off the bus, as we walked down the street she explained that since I was unfamiliar with the area that she would help me get to Qinglong street and also to the ancient temple just up the road. She guided me around for the next thirty minutes, even helping to suggest which things I might want to take a photo of and paying a small rickshaw fee for me.

Entrance to Qinglong Street
Qinglong Street

View from temple
At this point I still hadn't eaten, so after visiting the temple I took the rickshaw back to Qinglong street and scoped out the local restaurants. That's when I found what might be the most interesting eating experience of this trip, a little run down soup restaurant named "Baby Fuck". Inside I pointed at some local sausage, pork and some veggie, and the chef managed to churn out the most strangely delicious soup I've had in a long time. This guy was amused with me as I was with his restaurant, so after I took pictures of the spray painting on the walls and the food he served me, he took pictures posing next to me while I ate and posted them on wechat.

After finishing up I finally made my way back to the main road to catch a ride back to the bus station, with only 50 minutes to spare I didn't wait for the public bus this time, but instead negotiated with a local minus driver to get a ride back for 25 rmb. In the end the total bill for the ride to Banqiao and back was 36 rmb, a 14 rmb discount from what the cheapest taxi driver quoted me. By following my instincts I ended up learning how to use the Baoshan city bus system, getting a free tour of Banqiao, getting some immersive language practice, and saving money on transit.

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