Night in Xishuangbanna

  I once heard that the nightlife in the small town of Xishuangbanna is colorful. I only realized it slowly after living here.
  As the night fell, the Dai girls in tube skirts, like those slender seahorses in the ocean, swam out of the tropical rain forest in the mountains in groups, each with a strong scented flower in their hair. They went to work in a small town down the mountain. What kind of work is that? I asked Miss Yuxiang, and she replied, “Night Tour.” Oh my God, Night Tour! What a wonderful job!
  The young man Yanbo told me that the air in Xishuangbanna is poisonous (has miasma), and you can tell by looking at the white mist that persists all year round in the mountains. Don’t pay any attention to the girls in the cottage, they are all witches. A person’s soul has been hooked away, how can they still have a foothold in this world? I was not impressed with Iwanami’s advice. In the place where Gao Shanrong and Huwei Ye meet across the street, I have seen ghostly tube skirts detached from the ground in the dim light of the dim streetlights, flickering and disappearing. I think that’s the “night tour”. The girls here do have the ability to seduce souls, but what kind of situation is that? It is impossible to ask Yanbo what to ask. In my opinion, the Dai people have always answered the question. Of course they don’t think so themselves. For example, Iwanami’s answer to one of my questions was: “You will understand in summer.” But in my opinion, I think his answer has nothing to do with the season or the length of time, but with some kind of unattractiveness. Note that the scene transitions are related. The Dai people are open-minded, flexible, and often elusive.
  During the day, the sun is very poisonous, the small town surrounded by mountains falls asleep, the streets and alleys are almost empty, and even the pace of those yellow dogs is a bit drowsy. I was waiting in the apartment, and I knew everyone was waiting. This is the city that never sleeps, not the city that sings and dances, but the city that never sleeps. There is also a night market with lights in it, and people come and go; the wooden boats in the river move slowly, and there are women singing in the cabin; the food stalls in the middle of the street are full of young people drinking and having fun. But these are all superficial phenomena, not the inner core of a small town. When the lighting time came, the small town began to wake up little by little. After dinner, I walked out of the apartment and walked towards the centipede-like alleys by the river. There are beautiful acacia trees in the alley, and there is a scent similar to but not sweet-scented osmanthus in the air. Maybe it comes from the flower on the head of the cottage girl? I squinted hard and saw a few girls turn into a smaller alley next to this alley. They are not from the Dai people, they seem to be from the Bulang people. The flowers on their heads sway like phoenix crowns, which I saw through the dim light of the street lamps. I rushed to the corner where they disappeared, but couldn’t find the smaller alley. On the side of the road is a marble wall, and on the other side of the wall seems to be a park. I ran along the wall and couldn’t find any gaps. The scent of sweet-scented osmanthus is stronger. I went into the shadows and continued on. They must be able to walk through walls, these Brown girls.
  ”Yuanfeng, why are you walking here alone?” A terrified voice sounded in the dark.
  ”I’m hunting. How about you?” I said.
  ”I’m also hunting for beauty!” Xiaoji laughed.
  He jumped under the streetlight. The young man told me that he had come to the small town of Xishuangbanna from the mainland for six years, and now he is deeply in love and wanders out every night until morning. Now this habit can’t be changed, it’s like an addiction. The young man I met in a teahouse, usually just nodding, but now he suddenly confided his heart to me, is it because of the stimulation of flowers or because of the encouragement of darkness?
  ”Is your lover in town?” I asked Xiaoji.
  ”She’s everywhere, but every time I miss it.”
  We walked side by side, but I couldn’t touch Xiaoji, and Xiaoji’s body melted. “Ah, Xishuangbanna!” I exclaimed to myself. The street lights were far apart, and most of the places they walked were dark. I listened to Xiaoji’s footsteps: da da, da da, da da… very strange footsteps. I had to find something to say because the footsteps gave me goosebumps. I asked Xiaoji if she knew Yuxiang, a Dai girl. Xiaoji said that of course he knew, Yuxiang, wasn’t she the girl who hurt people with her eyes? He saw with his own eyes that Yuxiang shot his colleague to the ground with his eyes, and the young man was speechless for two days. There are many girls who hurt people with their eyes, but this is the first time he has seen someone as powerful as Yuxiang. When I heard Xiaoji’s words, I was a little proud. Yuxiang was my tea friend, and I met her in the tea room every one or two weeks.
  We saw the boys in Xishuangbanna, their faces dejected, their feet light, and everyone dressed in black. Xiaoji got excited, and I heard his footsteps become normal. He trumpeted his hands and seemed to be calling out to the group, but I couldn’t hear him at all. They passed us by. Then I suddenly heard Xiaoji talking.
  ”They’re going to jump off the cliff. It’s on the mountain where the Big Buddha is located in the south, a cliff called ‘The Road of the Brave’.” Xiaoji’s voice was full of envy.
  ”Is Iwanami among them?” I asked.
  ”Of course. You can meet the girls after crossing the cliff. Iwanami is the most positive about this.”
  I thought, so that’s how it is. I asked Xiaoji again, why do they look sad? Xiaoji said that they were just a little anxious because they had not yet reached the cliff. Once they got there, everything changed. I asked Xiaoji again, what would they be like in that kind of place? Kat said they would turn into proud turkeys. They fly far better than turkeys. So, aren’t they afraid of being seduced by the girl from the cottage? Xiaoji laughed and said, this is exactly what they have been thinking about.
  As I spoke, I stretched out my hand and grabbed a handful to the left. I touched something like a cotton stalk, and my palm went numb and bounced back. Is this dry cotton stalk Xiaoji’s body? But he can still speak, and he thinks clearly. I raised my head, pointed to the shadow in front of me and asked:
  ”Who’s there?”
  ”Shh, be quiet,” said Little Kat, “that’s my daddy, he’s having fun.” The
  shadow jumped up the marble wall and jumped into the garden beyond the wall . There was a series of screams as he landed. It’s a miracle that this uncle is so athletic! Xiaoji said that his father only came to Xishuangbanna last year, and now he is in love like him. “Who doesn’t love here? Unless he is dead.” Xiaoji said plausibly.
  We are still some distance away from the intersection, Xiaoji can’t hear his footsteps, maybe he left me? Xiaoji is right, who doesn’t love in Xishuangbanna? I’m in love too, but it’s not one girl I love, it’s all these witches. I look forward to the sun setting quickly every day, because they are feminine by nature and belong to darkness. I know that as a foreign man, I have a great attraction to them. Yet more than a year later, I still haven’t been able to get close to any of the girls. Their interest in me was limited to watching, which troubled me. I can’t even compare to Xiaoji’s dad. As I thought about it, a hand grabbed my shoulder. Immediately I reached out my left hand to touch that hand, and I touched the smooth back of the woman’s hand.
  ”Who are you?” I asked in a low voice.
  ”Xiaoji’s daddy.”
  ”My God!” I was so surprised that I was choked.