Local people use a route to get between Ge Deng and Yi Bang. It’s still quite a distance, but avoids having to go down to the Xiang Ming-Meng Lun road, and then back up to Yi Bang from Xiang Ming.
Stretches of the road are pretty muddy which makes for an interesting motorbike ride. I took a Youle tea farmer friend: as is typical for the large majority of tea farmers, although it’s maybe only 60km away, he had never been there. By the time we got to Yi Bang it was dark, and we and the bike were covered in mud up to the knees.
Yi Bang has a variety of resident ethnic groups but the majority is Yi. Jia Bu, Xi Kong and Man Song are all within the Yi Bang area along with a number of smaller villages: Man Gong, Ma Li Shu, Mi Bu, etc. The village mostly has small leaf variety trees though in some areas nearby there is a mix of xiao ye zhong and zhong xiao ye zhong.
This is rather typical of Yibang tea gardens. This one is on a steep slope on the edge of the village running down into a ravine with forest on the other side.
And in Ma Lin Shu, a few kilometers away:
Amongst the trees here there were one or two da ye zhong.
Yi Bang Jie (Yi Bang Street) to give it its proper name, feels like a place resting between two epochs – with a history that it has left behind, but isn’t yet ready to grapple with the present.